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DUKE UNIVERSITY LIBRARY 
DURHAM, N. C. 




Rec'd 



— 







Oil . 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 
in 2013 



http://archive.org/details/worksofrighrev01rave 



Rev. W. L. Hyland, D. D. 






THE 



WORKS 



OF 



THE RIGHT KEVEKEXD 

JOHN STARK RAVENSCROFT, D. D., 

BI9HOP 0» THB PROTESTANT EPISCOPAL CHURCH IX THE 
DIOCESE OF NORTH CAROLINA, 

CONTAINING HIS 

SERMONS AND CHARGES, 

08VISBD BT THS AUTHOR TO THB AID Or T]:. MISSIONARY CAUSE IN NORTH CAROLINA; 

TO WHICH JS PREFIXED 

A MEMOIR f 0F HIS LIFE. 

I 

i 
SECOND EDITION. 



IK TWO VOLUMES. 

VOL. I. 



FAYETTE VILLE, N. C: 

PRINTED BT EDWARD J. HALE & SON. 

1856. 



CONTENTS OF VOL. I. 



PAOl. 

Memoir, 1 

A Farewell Discourse; preached in St. James's Church, Mecklenburg 
County, Virginia, 69 

A Sermon on the Church; delivered before the Annual Convention of 
the Protestant Episcopal Church of North Carolina, 91 

A 8ermon on the Christian Ministry; delivered in St. Feter's Church, 
Washington, N. C, at an ordination, 113 

Revelation the Foundation of Faith; a Sermon preached in St. Luke's 
Church, Salisbury, N. C, at an ordination, 135 

A Sermon preached before the Bible Society of North Carolina, 151 

A Sermon on the Study and Interpretation of the Scriptures; delivered 
in the Episcopal Chapel, Raleigh, 167 

A Sermon preached at the consecration of Christ Church, Raleigh, N. 
C, 181 

An Episcopal Charge, delivered to the Convention of the Protestant 
Episcopal Church, assembled in Washington, N. C, in April 1825,... 197 

An Episcopal Charge, delivered to the Convention of the Protestant 
Episcopal Church, assembled in Hillsborough, N. C, in May 1826,... 207 

An Episcopal Charge, delivered to the Convention of the Protestant 
Episcopal Chuich, assembled in Fayetteville, N. C, in May 1828,.... 215 

SERMONS ON VARIOUS SUBJECTS. 

SERMON I. 

BAPTISM. 

John iii. 5. — Jesus answered, Verilj, verily, I say unto thee, Except a 
man be born of water, and of the Spibit, he cannot enter into the 
kingdom of Gop i 239 



17?G75 



VI CONTENTS. 

PAGE. 

SERMON II. 

CONFIRMATION. 

Acts xv. 41. — And he went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the 

churches 257 

SERMON III. 

NATURE AND DESIGN OF THE HOLT COMMUNION. 
Luke xxii. 19, last clause. — This do, in remembrance of me 271 

SERMON IV. 

THE OBLIGATION TO PARTAKE OF THE LORD'S SUPPER. 

1 Corinthians xi. 26. — For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink 

this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till he come 285 

SERMON Y. 

COMMUNION OF SAINTS. 

1 Corinthians x. 17. — For we being many, are one bread, and one 

body; for we are all partakers of that one bread 297 

SERMON VI. 

' UNITY OF THE CHURCH. 
Ei'iiesians iv. 4.— There is one body 309 

SERMON VII. 

CHRISTMAS. 

Matthew xi. 28. — Come unto me, all ye that labour, and are heavy la- 
den, and I will give you rest 327 

SERMON VIII. 

NEW-YEAR'S DAT. 
Psalm xxxi. 15, first clause. — My times are in thy hand 341 

SERMON IX. 

NEW-YEAR'S DAT. 
Hebrews i. 12, last clause. — But thou art the same, and thy years shall 
not fail 355 

SERMON X. 

ASCENSION OF CHRIST. 
JonN vi. 62. — What and if ye shall see the Son of Man ascend up, 

where he was before? ,...-.~. 86T 



CONTENTS. Vll 

PAGB. 

SERMON XL 

TRINITY SUNDAY. 

1 Timothy iii. 16. — And without controversy, great is the mystery of 
godliness; God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, 
seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the 
world, received up into glory 877 

SERMON" XII. 

ORDINATION, OR INSTITUTION. 

1 Thessalonians v. 25. — Brethren, pray for us 389 

SERMON XIII. 

ORDINATION SERMON. 

2 Corinthians iv. 5. — For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus 

the Lord, and ourselves your servants, for Jesus' sake 401 

SERMON" XIY. 

CONSECRATION. 

Psalm xciii. 5, last clause. — Holiness becometh thine house, Lord, for 
ever . 415 

SERMON XV. 

THE OLD PATHS! — A CONSECRATION SERMON; PREACHED 
IN VIRGINIA AND NORTH CAROLINA. 

Jeremiah vi. 16. — Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, 
and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk there- 
in, and ye shall find rest for your souls 427 

SERMON XYI. 

THE REASONABLENESS OF RELIGION. 

1 Kings xviii. 21. — And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, 
How long halt ye between two opinions? If the Lord be God, fol- 
low him; but if Baal, then follow him 443 

SERMON XVII. 

THE NECESSITY OF EXERCISING A RIGHT JUDGMENT IN 
OUR RELIGIOUS CONCERNS. 

Luke xii. 57. — Yea, and why, even of yourselves, judge ye not what is 

right? 457 



Till CONTENTS. 

PAGH. 

SERMON XVIII. 

THE FOLLY AND WICKEDNESS OF EXCUSES AGAINST 

RELIGION. 
Lfke xiv. 18. — And they all, with one consent, began to make excuse. 469 

SERMON XIX. 

GOD'S ANGER AGAINST THE WICKED. 
Psalm vii. 11. — God is angry with the wicked every day 481 









MEMOIR 



John Stark Ravenscroft, D. D., late Bishop of the dio- 
cese of North Carolina, was born in the year 1772, at an es- 
tate near Blandford, in the county of Prince George, Yirginia, 
which had long been in the possession of his family. Pie was 
the only child of Dr. John Ravenscroft, a gentleman of for- 
tune, who had been educated for the practice of medicine. 

Dr. Ravenscroft's ample possessions and small family soon 
induced him to relinquish the practice of his laborious pro- 
fession, and within two months after the birth of his son, he 
removed to Great Britain, where he ultimately purchased a 
small landed estate in the south of Scotland, to the improve- 
ment of which he devoted the rest of his life. 

The mother of the subject of our memoir, was the daugh- 
ter of Mr. Hugh Miller, a Scotch gentleman who resided in 
the same county, and both she and her husband, Dr. Ravens- 
croft, were descended maternally from the extensive and re- 
spectable family of the Boilings. 

It is not known, certainly, what were the chief induce- 
ments with Dr. Ravenscroft to remove to Europe. Though 
of Scotch descent and married into a Scottish family, it is 
not probable that the dissensions between the colonies and 
the mother country had any influence upon his determina- 
tion, fur it will be recollected that, although great excitement 
had prevailed in the country for some years previous, the 
year 1772 and the early part of '73 was a season of remark- 
able tranquility, and the opiirioa was generally entertained 
that the conciliatory measures of the British government 
would ultimately subdue the spirit of disaffection in her col- 
onies. Be that as it may, however, it is certain that he re- 
garded his removal as final, having previously to his depart- 
ure empowered an attorney to dispose of the whole of his 
patrimonial and other property. The sale was effected, but 
owing to the unsettled state of the country at that period. 



3 



MEMOIR. 



and the subsequent very great depreciation in the value of 
the current money of the time, the doctor during his lifetime 
derived but very little benefit from it, and having in the 
purchase that he made in Scotland, relied upon the funds 
which he expected from Virginia, he was in consequence 
somewhat embarrassed during his whole life. He notwith- 
standing so far arranged his affairs before his death, as to 
leave his widow, who is still living, in easy circumstances. 
He died about the close of the year 1TS0. 

Mrs. Eavenscroft availed herself of the excellent opportu- 
nity which Scotland afforded, at that time as now, of giving 
her son a very complete and thorough classical education; 
and after he had finished his course at one of the most re- 
spectable grammar schools in that country, she placed him 
at a seminary of comewhat higher grade in the north of Eng- 
land, where, besides continuing his classical studies, he was 
instructed in mathematics, natural philosophy, and other 
sciences. 

Soon after Mr. Eavenscroft had entered his seventeenth 
year, his friends thought it expedient that he should return 
to Virginia, for the purpose of looking after the remains of 
his father's property, which, from causes already mentioned, 
still remained in a very precarious condition. He accordingly 
left his friends in Scotland at the beginning of the winter of 
1788-9, and reached Virginia in the January following. He 
was here so far successful in recovering some remnants of 
his father's large property, as to be subsequently in easy, if 
not affluent circumstances. Intending to devote himself to 
the profession of the law, he entered William and Mary col- 
lege, at Williamsburg, in Virginia, with a view to the pros-e- 
dition of that study, and to the acquisition of a more perfect 
acquaintance with the sciences. Mr. Wythe was at that pe- 
riod Professor of Law at Williamsburg, and of course the ad- 
vantages for students in that department were unusually 
great; but owing to the extreme relaxation of discipline in 
the college, joined to the large pecuniary allowance made to 
Mr. Eavenscroft by his guardian, and which induced habits 
of extravagance and dissipation, he did not derive that in- 
struction from the lectures of this eminent lawyer which his 
friends might have expected. It is not necessary here to 



» 



MEMOIR. 6 

dwell upon the time wasted, and the evil courses pursued, by 
Mr. Ravenscroft during this dangerous period of his life: the 
reader will find in a subsequent part of this narrative, the 
candid account which that most ingenuous of men himself 
gives of it. It is to be remarked, however, that his convic- 
tion of sin was so strong in the latter part of his life, and his 
self-accusations so severe in respect to his misspent youth, 
that the picture which he has drawn of it, is, probably, 
too highly colored to convey a just idea of his character and 
conduct. Those who knew him at this and at a somewhat 
later period of life, are not aware of his addiction to any vi- 
ces, in the popular sense of that term, except profane swear- 
ing and a general contempt for religion. It is true that these 
vices go very far towards making a depraved character, but 
some palliation may be found for them, in the peculiar cir- 
cumstances in which Mr. Ravenscroft was placed. Separated 
by an ocean from his family — supplied by a too indulgent 
guardian with almost unlimited means of gratifying his in- 
clination — and placed at the early age of seventeen at a sem- 
inary notorious at that period for its total want of discipline, 
it is not to be wondered at, that he should have indulged in 
excesses and contracted habits, which, in after years, ap- 
peared to his self-abhorring spirit to be of the most vicious 
kind. At the same time, it is very certain that those habits 
and excesses were not of that nature, which is usually thought 
to be degrading to the youthful character. 

As might have been expected, however, his studies did 
not result in any very considerable acquaintance with the 
principles of the profession to which he had proposed devot- 
ing his chief attention, and though he remained for some 
tiin£ a member of the college, with the ostensible object of 
preparing himself for the practice of law, it does not appear 
that he ever procured a license to practice, or if he did it is 
certain that he never availed himself of it. Before Mr. Ra- 
venscroft left Williamsburg, an event took place which seems 
to have been, in the hand of God, the means of arresting him 
in that career of youthful dissipation, which, as he advanced 
towards manhood, was assuming the more alarmins; charac- 
ter of habitual vice. He formed an acquaintance with the 
lady who afterwards became his wife, and whose lovely cha- 



4 MEMOIR. 

racter appears from that time to have exerted an influence 
over his wayward disposition, sufficiently powerful to coun- 
teract the adverse influence of his former bad habits and 
want of religious principle, and to make him the estimable 
and respectable man he afterwards became, till the more 
powerful operations of God's grace brought him to the foot 
of the cross. ' 

This lady was the daughter of Lewis Burwell, Esq. of 
Mecklenburg County, and was on„a visit to her friends in 
Williamsburg, at the time of her first acquaintance with Mr. 
Pavenscroft. She is represented as having been remarkable 
for her personal beauty, and fur what was of far greater 
value, especially in the particular station assigned her by 
Providence, a gentleness of disposition peculiarly adapted to 
a collision with the ardent temperament of her husband, and 
at the same time a firmness of character, and correctness of 
principle, which, while it enabled her to mould his less es- 
tablished character, preserved her from the contagion of his 
evil example. 

About the year 1702, Mr. Pavenscroft re-visited Scotland 
for the last time, with the view of converting the property 
which he had inherited from his father in that country, into 
money, preparatory to his final establishment in Virginia. 
This addition to his already competent estate rendered his sit- 
uation such as justified him in marrying, notwithstanding that 
he had now abandoned all thoughts of prosecuting the pro- 
fession of law. Accordingly, soon after his return from Scot- 
land, and a short time previous to his coming of age, he was 
married tu Miss Burwell. Not having purchased any property 
prior to his marriage, and having no near relations residing 
in the vicinity of his birth-place, to make it a desirable resi- 
dence for himself, he was eanly induced to yield to the wisMs 
of his wife in purchasing an estate in the more healthy dis- 
trict of country where his father-in-law lived. lie settled in 
Lunenburgh County, not far from Mr. Burwell, and hence- 
forward devoted himself to the usual pursuits of a country 
life, until it pleased God to call him to be a laborer in his 
vineyard. During a period of eighteen years, Mr. Pavens- 
croft here continued to sustain his several relations towards 
his family and neighbors, in a manner that gave him a high 



MEMOIR. ■» 

and honorable reputation among men. The remark already 
made, respecting the hateful terms in which he was wont in 
after years to refer to this wasted period of life — wasted as to 
the chief purpose of life, may here be repeated, and the im- 
pression very generally entertained, in consequence, respect- 
ing his character and conduct at this time, be corrected. As 
a husband, a master, a member of society — a husband to the 

i i 1/ 

widow, and in a peculiar sense, a father to the orphan, Mr. 
Ravenscroft was every thing that was estimable; and the 
absurd stories of his fondness for gaming and other low vices, 
are utterly groundless. It is true that his good qualities were 
all obscured by a more than ordinary neglect, and perhaps 
•contempt, of religious obligations. And it is this that led 
him when his eyes became open, to loathe himself to the de- 
gree which was so remarkable a trait of his religious charac- 
ter. But, doubtless, many a mere moralist has built his 
claims for acceptance with his God upon a foundation more 
slender than the morality which Mr. Eavenscroft practised 
for years, though without any reference to his accountability. 

Mr. Ravenscroft was never blessed with children of his 
own, but towards five orphan children, who were placed un- 
der his care while infants, he for many years discharged the 
duties of an affectionate and conscientious parent. The sur- 
vivors of these objects of his parental affection bear testimo- 
ny, in the warmest terms, to the undeviating kindness and 
judicious care which marked the conduct of their adopted 
father towards them, from their earliest recollection to the 
day of his death; and the filial respect uniformly manifested 
on their part, has afforded to all who witnessed it, a pleasing 
evidence of the sincerity of their gratitude. 

It is not consistent with the chief purposes of this memoir 
to dwell at much length upon this portion of Mr. Ravens- 
croft's life. That he lived utterly "without God in the world," 
he himself was ever most ready to acknowledge, and the mere 
details of an ordinary irreligious life, passed in the obscurity 
of the country, would possess neither novelty nor instruction. 
That he did not suffer his mind to languish, or his early ad- 
vantages to remain unimproved, is obvious from the large 
fund of acquired information which he carried with him 
into the ministry, and those habits of close and logical rea- 



D MEMOIE. 

soning which formed so striking a characteristic of his pulpit 
oratory. Although he interested himself with his usual ardor 
in the politics of the day, and in the various objects of local 
interest which successively presented themselves, he was 
never induced to leave the retirement of private life, or to 
seek that kind of popularity which seems almost the natural 
food of tempers as active as his. In the bosom of his family, 
and in the diligent discharge of the numerous charities of 
life, he sought and found that happiness which this w T orld can 
give. Though blessed with a wife, who seems to have found 
her own happiness in promoting his, with an estate that was 
equal to his utmost wishes, and with the respect and affec- 
tion of a large circle of friends, he yet experienced that truth 
which enters so largely into the experience of every man, 
that the happiness of this world is empty and unsatisfying; 
and his well informed mind was gradually brought, though 
after a long night of delusion, to the conviction that "here 
was B>t his rest." 

We are henceforth to consider the character of Mr. Ra- 
vcnscroft in a new aspect. So heartily and earnestly did he 
co-operate with the grace of Goi», when it had once broken 
<h>wn the vain opposition of his sinful and lung cherished 
lusts, that the change in his views, his feelings, and his pur- 
suits, though far from being instantaneous or even very ra- 
pid, soon became marked and decisive. Some groundless- 
stories respecting the immediate causes and manner of his 
Conversion, have been related and even published; and it is 
well for the cause of truth, as also for Mr. Ravenscroft's own 
reputation, that he was prevailed upon to commit to writing 
during his last confinement, an authentic and detailed account 
of the rise and progress in his heart of that great change by 
which "he put off, concerning the former conversation, the 
old man," and "put on the new man, which after God is cre- 
ated in righteousness and true holiness." 

The stories referred to, very seriously implicated his privato 
and domestic character, and if true, would have presented 
him in the odious light of a persecutor of religion in the per- 
sons of its professors, as well as in its principles. That there 
was no foundation for these stories, either in the character of 



MEMOIR. 7 

Mr. Ravenscroft, or in any circumstances connected with his 
conversion, was well known to all who knew him, or who 
had access to correct information on the subject; but the pub- 
lic have remained long deceived, and Mr. Ravenscroft, who 
always acted with a motive, was induced by a conscientious 
apprehension of doing harm to the cause of religion, to re- 
frain from undeceiving them during his life. As he says 
himself in a letter to a friend, who had requested information 
from him in relation to the great change in his heart and 
life, '"It is a subject I have never been fond of stirring, be- 
cause I was averse to putting myself forward, and because 
the peculiar circumstances fiffmy case might have been used 
and perverted to strengthen the despisers of the means of 
grace, in their neglect of all the outward appointments of 
God's wisdom and goodness, to beget consideration in their 
hearts, and lead them to repentance. Therefore it was, that 
when some person, both unknown to me, and ignorant of me, 
undertook to publish what was totally without foundation, I 
cared not to contradict it, otherwise than in conversation to 
the few friends who questioned me on the subject." 

This same disregard of his own reputation when brought 
into collision with the interests of his fellow-men, or with the 
glory of his God, continued to actuate all Mr. Raven scroft's 
motions until the day of his death. He was induced, how- 
ever, towards the close of his life, to believe, or rather to 
yield to the opinions of his friends, that a narrative of his re- 
ligious life, and of his life and character before he became a 
convert, would be useful: and the reader is here presented 
with the last records of that pen which has done so much for 
the sacred cause of religion. Although the hand of death 
arrested its author in his progress towards its completion, yet 
enough has been told in this memoir to vindicate him from 
the calumnies which, in connexion with the fictitious story 
of his conversion, were circulated much more widely than 
his verbal contradictions of them. 

"In fulfilment of a promise made to several of my friends, 
who judged — whether rightly or not must be proved by the 
event — that advantage might be derived to the cause of true 
religion, and the interests of the Church promoted, from the 



© MEMOIR. 

circumstances attending my entering upon a religious course 
of life authentically communicated; and that as a public man 
I owed it to the public, and particularly to the communion 
of which I am a minister, to record the leading events of my 
religious life, I commit to writing what the memoranda I 
have preserved enable me to give of my personal history, so 
tar as that is connected with edification to the members of 
the Church, and to all other serious and unprejudiced per- 
sons. In performing this promise, I rather yield to the rea- 
sonings of others than to the conviction of my own mind, 
having long been of opinion that effects which have not fol- 
lowed the living services of any uninspired minister of Christ, 
are hardly to be expected from posthumous endeavors. God, - 
however, can give effect to whatever means seem good to 
him, and if it shajl be his will to wurk by this for the salva- 
tion of even a single sinner, or to remove a single prejudice 
against his Church, to his holy and merciful name be all the 
glory both now and forever. 

"John S. Ravenscroft."' 



"Though a native of Virginia, being born in the county of 
Prince George, in the year ITTl', — of which State my proge- 
nitors, as far back as 1 have been able to trace them, with 
the exception of my maternal grandfather, were also natives 
— my first recollections are of Scotland, my parents having 
removed from Virginia t he same year in which I was born; 
and, after an interval of about two years, spent in the north 
of England, purchased and settled iinally in the south of Scot- 
land, where my mother and two sisters still reside. Here I 
received the rudiments of my education; and I feel bound to 
record, that I owe much to the custom there established of 
making the Scriptures a school book — a custom, I am grieved 
to say it, not only abandoned in the schools and academies 
among us, but denounced as improper, if not injurious. Al- 
though I was unconscious, at the time, of any power or influ- 
ence over my thoughts or actions thence derived, yet what 
mere memory retained of their life-giving truths, proved of 
unspeakable advantage, when I became awakened on the 



MEMOIK. » 

subject of religion; and I am constrained to believe, that 
what was thus unconsciously sown in my heart, though 
smothered and choked by the levity of youth, and abused 
and perverted by the negligence and sinfulness of my riper 
years, was nevertheless a preparation of Heaven's foresight 
and mercy, for grace to quicken me — a mighty help to my 
amazed and confounded soul, when brought to a just view of 
my actual condition as a sinner, both by nature and by prac- 
tice. "Without this help, I might, like thousands of others, 
have wandered in a bewildered state, the prey of many de- 
lusions — engendered by the anxieties of a disturbed and ig- 
norant mind, or by the fanaticism of those many well mean- 
ing, perhaps, but certainly most ignorant men, who yet ven- 
ture to become teachers of religion. For this reason it is 
that I have been earnest, during my ministry, in pressing 
upon parents, and upon those who have the care of youth, 
the great duty of furnishing their tender and pliant minds 
with the treasures of divine knowledge and saving truth, con- 
tained in God's revealed word. No matter what specious 
arguments may be brought against the practice, we can re- 
ply, that it is a means of grace of God's own appointment, 
and one too which he has promised to bless and make effec- 
tual. No matter though it be objected, as it often is object- 
ed by the vain disputers of this world, that the minds of chil- 
dren can not comprehend such deep and unsearchable won- 
ders — God, we know, is able to open their understandings, 
and "out of the mouths of babes and sucklings to perfect his 
praise." No matter, though it be argued, that it is in vain, 
if not actually wrong, to force their minds to religion, and 
thus give them a distaste, and even an antipathy against it. 
Alas! what a flimsy subterfuge of unbelief and opposition to 
God; and yet what numbers are swa} r ed by it? For, is it 
thought wrong, or even improper, to force their minds, if we 
must use the words, to any other branch of learning? and yet 
the danger of distaste, and even of antipathy, to human sci- 
ences, must be equally great. Besides, is not this distaste, 
and even antipathy, to divine things, the natural state of 
fallen creatures: and religion, the love of God, and goodness, 
a forced, that is, an unnatural state, to us spiritually dead 
and undone creatures, and therefore to be counteracted by 



10 MEMOIE. 

every possible means? Let no parent, then, be led away by 
this infidel sophistry, to withhold religious instruction from 
the earliest years of his children, or to trust them in a school 
where the Bible is excluded as a class book. 

"Having lost my father in my ninth year, it became ne- 
cessary to return to Virginia, to look after the wreck of his 
property. In my seventeenth year, accordingly, I was sepa- 
rated from all I had ever known, and that was dear to me, 
and landed in Virginia on New Year's day, 17S9 — a stranger 
to all around me, and in great part my own master — at least 
without any control I had been accustomed to respect. That 
under such circumstances I should quickly overcome those 
habits which the restraints of education had imposed, and 
wander after the lusts of my sinful heart, and the desires of 
my darkened eyes, is hardly to be wondered at. Wander 
indeed I did, not even waiting for temptation, but madly 
seeking it, and soon lost every early good impression, and 
even those fears and misgivings about futurity, of which all 
men are conscious occasionally. 

"In looking back upon this period of my life, I think it 
may be proiitable to advert to a circumstance which had 
great mlluence in confirming me in the sinful course I was 
panning. It being determined by my friends that I should 
turn mv attention to the profession of the law, as presenting 
the fairest prospects of honor and emolument, I entered the 
college of William and Mary, that I might attend the law 
lectures of the celebrated Mr. Wythe, together with the other 
courses of scientific acquirement there taught. The plan was 
doubtless good, and might have been of the greatest advan- 
tage to my prospects in life; but by throwing me still more 
upon my own guidance, and increasing my means of self- 
indulgence, by the liberal allowance for my expenses, it in- 
creased in an equal degreee the power of temptation, and I 
have to look back on the time spent in college as more marked 
by proficiency in extravagance, and juvenile vice, than in 
scientific attainment. Yet the means of improvement were 
fully within my reach, and that I did not profit more, is 
wholly my own fault. The professors in the different depart- 
ments were able men, and the regulations of the institution 
good in themselves, but they were not enforced with the vigi- 



MEMOIK. 11 

lance and precision necessary to make them efficient, in that 
moral discipline so supremely important at this period of 
life. Except at the hours appropriated to the lectures, my 
time was at my own disposal; and though expected to attend 
prayers every morning in the college chapel, absence was 
not strictly noticed, and very slight excuses were admitted. 
Attendance at church, on Sunday, was entirely optional, and 
the great subject of religion wholly unattended to. The stu- 
dents were required to board in college; but from the small 
number — not exceeding fifteen — from the low price of board, 
and the constant altercations with the steward — the public 
table was given up, and the students permitted to board in the 
taverns, or elsewhere, as suited them. This every way injuri- 
ous and most unwise permission, presented facilities for dis- 
sipation which would not otherwise have been found, and 
encouraged as they were by the readiness with which credit 
was obtained from persons whose calculations were formed on 
the heedlessness and improvidence of youth, temptation was 
divested of all present impediment to its power. This last 
is an evil which I believe attends all seminaries of learning, 
and forms one of the greatest obstacles to their real useful- 
ness, and one of the most fruitful nurseries of vice. As such, 
it ought to be met and resisted by the whole power of the 
community, and by the arm of the law inflicting severe pecu- 
niary penalty, independent of the loss of the debt contracted 
— and even imprisonment of the person convicted of giving 
credit to a student at any college, or other public seminary 
of learning. Some such provision, it appears to me, is essen- 
tial to the public usefulness of such institutions; and if en- 
forced with due vigilance by the professors, in whose name, 
and at whose instance, the prosecution should be carried on, 
would go far to counteract this increasing mischief. And 
when it is considered that the practice of giving credit to 
minors under such circumstances, is a stab at the very vitals 
of society, hardly any penalty can be considered too severe. 
"While I thus "walked according to the course of this 
world, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind," the 
customs and manners of genteel society imposed some degree 
of restraint upon my outward deportment; and the respect I 
really entertained for some excellent persons, who iavored 



12 MEMOIR. 

me with their notice and regard, preserved me from open 
debauchery. Strange creatures! we can submit to some re- 
straint, and command ourselves to some self-denial, for the 
praise of "man that is a worm," while we madly defy the 
omnipotent God! We can be influenced by the fear of a fel- 
low-creature, while there is "no fear of God before our eyes." 
What other proof do we need to convince us that we are fal- 
len creatures, spiritually dead, and must continue such, un- 
less quickened into life by God the Holy Ghost? 

"These restraints, however, could not have continued to 
operate for any length of time against the natural tendency 
of vice to wax worse and worse; and that I became not totally 
and irrecoverably sunk in its ruinous depths, I owe, under 
God, to a most excellent woman, who consented to become 
my wife in my 21st year. This event gave a new direction 
to the course of nay life! I abandoned, the study of law and 
embraced a country life, devoting myself to agricultural pur- 
suits. TI1119 removed from the temptations and facilities to 
vice, which our cities and towns present so readily, with 
rrgular and pleasant occupation on my farm, and my domes- 
tic happiness studied and promoted by the affectionate part- 
ner I't'inv life, my years rolled on as happily — were the pre- 
sent life alone to be provided for — as could reasonably be 
dr-ired. The personal regard I entertained for my wife, in- 
creased to the highest esteem, and even veneration, as the 
virtues of her character opened upon me, while the prudence 
and discrclioti of her conduct won me gradually from my 
previous dissipated habits. She was a woman of high prin- 
ciple and of a very independent character: what she did not 
approve of, she would not smile upon; } T et she never gave me 
a ero-s w«,rd, or an ill-natured look in her life, and in the 
twenty-three years it pleased God to spare her to me, such 
Mas her discretion, that though I often acted otherwise than 
she could have wished me to do, and though she was faithful 
to reprove me, there never was a quarrel or temporary es- 
trangement between us. "She opened her mouth with wis- 
dom, and in her tongue was the law of kindness." So that 
when she left me for a better world, it was an exceeding 
comfort to me that I could look back upon so little to re- 
proach myself with, respecting her; only this, that but for the 



MEMOIR. 13 

last five years of our union, had I any sense of her real value, 
or of God's goodness in giving her to me, or any communion 
with her in the love of that Saviour, who had been her hope 
and trust through life, (though she was not formally a pro- 
fessor — the Church in which she was baptised having been 
cast down before she came to years of discretion) — and who 
was her stay and support in the hour of death. "0 how 
good it is," would she say to me as I watched by her dying 
bed, "to have a Saviour, and such a Saviour!" 

"But though my marriage certainly produced a great 
change in my outward conduct, I was nevertheless as far 
from God as ever; without even a thought of religion, or once 
opening the Bible for eighteen years, to learn what God the 
Lokd should say, or once bending my knees in prayer to 
him, on whom my all depended; and though twice in this- 
time brought to the gates of deatJi by sickness, yet no uneasy 
thought of hereafter disturbed my mind. So true is the ex- 
pression of the Psalmist that "the wicked hath no bands in 
death." So great was my neglect, in fact disrespect, of even 
the outward forms of religion, that from the year 1792 to the 
year 1810, I was not present at any place of public worship 
more than six or seven times, and then not from choice, but 
from some accidental accommodation to propriety, in surren- 
dering to the opinions of others. 

"Indeed the kind of preaching I had in my power to hear, 
was not of a description to engage the attention of any in- 
formed mind. I soon found that I knew more of the Scrip- 
tures from memory than the preachers, and was vain enough 
to think that I understood them better and could apply them 
more correctly, than the well-meaning perhaps, but certainly 
most ignorant, unqualified, and of course injurious men, who 
appeared around in the character of ministers of religion. But 
as I had no spiritual senses as yet quickened in me, the 
25reaching of the cross, even from an angel, would have been 
to me as to the Greeks of old — foolishness. Oh what a mir- 
acle of long suffering, that in all this time God was not pro- 
voked to cut me off! What a miracle of grace, that I am 
permitted to think and speak of it, and to adore the riches 
of his mercy, in bringing me to a better mind! 

"It was in the year 1810 that it pleased God to set my 



14: MEMOIR. 

mind at 'work, and gradually to bring me to doubt the dark 
security of my unawakened state. But I am not conscious 
of any peculiar incident or circumstance, that first led me to 
considerations of the kind. 

"As I was the manager of my own estate, "which comprised 
a set of mills, as well as a plantation, about two miles distant 
from each other, 1 was of course much alone, at least in that 
kind of solitude which gives the mind opportunity to com- 
mune with itself. It was in my rides from one to the other, 
and while superintending the labors of my people, that a 
train of thought, to which I was previously altogether unac- 
customed, begun to occupy my attention, and though dis- 
missed once and ai^ain would still return, and with everv re- 
turn would interest me more and more. That the train of 
thought tkxis Bnggestetl, concerned my condition as an ac- 
countable creature, will be readily imagined, as also, that on 
the review 1 found it bad enough. This it was no difficult 
thing tor me to feci and to admit, nor as yet did there appear 
much difficulty in reforming what I could not justify. 

"An impatient and passiofeMe temper, witli a most sinful 
and hateful habit of profane swearing, in which I was a great 
protiririit, were my most open and hesetting sins. These, 
however. I considered as within my own control, and as such, 
set forthwith about amending them, but without any reliance 
upon Goo for help) 6r without much if any impression that 
it was at all needful. In this endeavor at reformation, which 
it plea-cd (.on thus to permit me to make, I went on pros- 
perously for a season, and began to pride myself in that self- 
command I seemed to pontes. But my own weakness was 
yet to be showed me. and when temptation again assailed 
me, all mv boasted self-command was but as a rush against 
the wall. I surrendered to passion, and from passion to blas- 
phemy. When I came to rellect upon this, then it was that, 
for the first time in my life, 1 was sensible of something like 
concern — some consciousness of wrong beyond what was ap- 
parent. But without waiting to examine farther, I hastily 
concluded to exert myself more heartily, and yet to command 
myself thoroughly. 

"During these my endeavors, however, the Scriptures were 
more and more the object of my attention, and from them I 



MEMOIR. 

began gradually to discover (what I was very loth to admit) 
the true state and condition of human nature. What little 
I had lately come to know of myself, however, and all that 
I knew of the world, seemed to rise up as strong proofs that 
the doctrine of our natural depravity was true. Willing, 
however, to escape from it, I resorted to the subterfuge of 
too many among us — that what we find in the Scriptures is 
figuratively expressed, and is, therefore, not to be taken in 
the strictness of the letter. But my own experience was to 
be the expositor of the word. Again and again were my 
self-righteous endeavors foiled and defeated, much as at the 
first; and humbled and confounded, I became alarmed at 
what must be the issue — if I was thus to remain the sport of 
passions I could not command, the prey of sin I could not 
conquer. Something like prayer would flow from my lips, 
but it was the prayer of a heart that yet knew not aright, its 
own plague. One more effort was to be made, and with 
great circumspection did I watch over myself for some weeks. 
Still did I continue, however, my search in and meditation 
upon the Scriptures: and here it was that I found the benefit 
of my early acquaintance with them. I had not to look afar 
off for their doctrines, they were familiar to my memory from 
a child; I had known them thus far, though now it was that 
their living proof was to be experienced. The whole, I be- 
lieve, was to be made to depend on my acquiescence in the 
turning point of all religion — that we are lost and undone, 
spiritually dead and helpless in ourselves; and so I found it. 
"Again and dreadfully did I fall from my own steadfast- 
ness — temptation, like "a mighty man that shouteth by rea- 
son of wine," swept my strength before it, carried away my 
resolutions as Samson did the gates of Gaza. I returned to 
the house convinced of my own helplessness, of my native 
depravity, and that to spiritual things I was incompetent. I 
now found of a truth that "in me dwelt no srood thing." I 
threw myself upon my bed in my private room — I wept — 
I prayed. Then was showed unto me my folly in trusting to 
an arm of flesh. Then did it please the Lord to point my 
bewildered view to him who is "the Lord our righteousness." 
Then was I enabled in another strength to commit myself 
unto his way. From that moment my besetting sin of pro- 



16 MEMOIK. 

lane swearing was overcome, and to this moment lias troubled 
me no more. But much was vet to be done, which the same 
gracious friend of poor sinuers continued to supply; and to 
lead me step by step, to proclaim his saving name, and de- 
clare his mighty power openly to the world. 

"In making an outward profession of religion, I acted as 
multitudes, alas, do, without considering that any thing de- 
pended on my being a member of the Church of Chkist, or 
that any difficulty existed as to what was and what was not 
trulv such. In choosing between the different denominations 
into which the Christian world is split up, 1 considered no- 
thing mora to be necessary than agreement in points of faith 
and practical religion, with such a system of discipline as 
VMS calculated to promote the peace and edilication of the 
society. This I thought I found in a body of Christians called 
Republican Methodists; and inlluonced in no small degree 
by personal friendship fur one of their preachers, Mr. John 
':'. !n>oii, of Charlotte county, my wife and myself took niem- 
I ii -hij> with them. At this time, however, they had no 
church organized within reach of my dwelling, only a month- 
ly appointment for preaching at one of the old churches, 

c : glit miles distant. 

"I; was not very long, however, before this want was sup- 
plied in the gathering together of a sullicient number to con- 
stitute a church according to their rule, in which I was ap- 
pointed a lay elder, and labored for the benefit of the mom- 
bora by meeting them Op the vacant Sundays, and reading 
t > them such printed disoOlirsefi as J thought calculated to 
instruct and impress them; and these meetings were well at- 
tended, considering the prevalent delusion on the subject of 
idling, and the wide and deep objection to prepared ser- 
mons. 

"When I had been engaged in this wav about three vears, 
increasing in knowledge myself, W I endeavored to impart 
it to others, I gradually began to be exercised on the subject, 
of the ministry, and to entertain the frequently returning 
thought, i hat 1 might be more Useful to the souls of my fel- 
low-sinners than as I then was, and that 1 owed it to Con. 
To this Step, however, there appeared objections insurmount- 
able, from my worldly condition, aud from my want of pub- 



MEMOIK. IT 

lie qualifications. Yet I could not conceal from myself, that 
if the men with whom I occasionally associated, and those of 
whom I had obtained any acquaintance as ministers of reli- 
gion, were qualified to fill the station, I was behind none, 
and superior to most of them, in acquired knowledge, if not 
in Christian attainment. My objections were, therefore, 
chiefly from my personal interests, and personal accommo- 
dation, cloaked under the want of the necessary qualifications 
for a public speaker, and some obscure views of the great re- 
sponsibility of the office. I felt that I dreaded it, and there- 
fore, did not encourage either the private exercises of my 
own mind, or the open intimations of my brethren. Yet I 
could not escape from the often returning meditation of the 
spiritual wants of all around me, of the never to be paid ob- 
ligation I was under to the divine mercy, and of the duty I 
owed to give myself in any and in every way to God's dis- 
posal. 

"Of this I entertained no dispute; yet the toils and priva- 
tions, the sacrifices of worldly interest, and the contempt for 
the calling itself, manifested by the wealthier and better in- 
formed classes of society, which I once felt myself, and now 
witnessed in others, were a severe stumbling-block; and I 
was willing to resort to any subterfuge to escape encounter- 
ing it. Yet I would sometimes think, that a great part of 
this was more owing to the men than to the office." 



Thus abruptly terminates this interesting narrative, to the 
composition of which Mr. Havenscroft devoted the intervals 
of strength and leisure that he enjoyed during his last illness. 
Among the memoranda to which he referred in the prepara- 
tion of it, is found one written by himself, in the year 1819, 
which is here subjoined, as a continuation of the history of 
his motives and views in entering the ministry of the Pro- 
testant Episcopal Church, and the causes of his dissatisfaction 
with the communion to which he had first attached himself. 

"In the year 1815, being much exercised on the subject of 
the ministry, and believing myself called to a public station 
[Vol. 1,— *2.] 



IS MEMOIR. 

in the church, as well as pressed by the solicitations of my 
brethren, I began to revolve the question of orders in my 
mind, and to seek for information on a subject which I felt 
was of the last consequence to my comfort, and I may say 
usefulness as a minister of Christ, viz: the authority by which 
I should be commissioned to perform the duties of the min- 
istry. To rest it upon the assurance I felt, that I was called 
of God to the work, was personal to myself, but could not 
weigh with others beyond my own opinion; and something 
more than that was essential to prevent me from feeling my- 
self an intruder into the sacred office. 

"On mentioning my difficulty to the pastor of the congre- 
gation to which 1 belonged, an able and sensible, though not 
a learned man, I found that it was a question he could not 
entertain, being, like Dissenters in general, little if at all im- 
pressed with the importance (not to themselves alone, but to 
those under their charge,) of valid and authorized ministra- 
tions in the Church. Being thus left to my own resources, 
and the word of Goo, I became fully convinced that the aw- 
ful deposit of the Word, by which we shall all be judged, 
could never be thrown out into the world to be scrambled 
for, and picked up by whosoever pleased to take hold of it; 
and though this objection might in some sort be met by the 
manifestation of an internal call, yet as that internal call 
could not now be demonstrated to others, something more 
was needed, which could only be found in the outward dele- 
gation of authority, from that source to which it was origi- 
nally committed. Of the necessity of this verifiable author- 
ity to the comfort and assurance of Christians in the present 
day, the Sacrament of Baptism presented itself to me as de- 
monstrative truth. Being the only possible mode by which 
fallen creatures can become interested in the covenant of 
grace, and entitled to the benefit of (Jurist's gracious under- 
taking for the salvation of sinners, it must be of the last im- 
portance to parents and children to be satisfied and assured 
that such unspeakable blessings should be authoritatively 
conveyed. And as the authority of Christ is the very es- 
sence of Baptism, in the assurance of its pledges to those to 
whom it is administered, and as this assurance can only be 
such by the verification of the requisite power and authority 



MEMOIR. 19 

to administer the rite, it appeared clear to me, that no as- 
sumption of that power by any man, or body of men, neither 
any consequent delegation of it, could by any possibility an- 
swer the intention and purpose of the Author and Finisher 
of our faith, in making Baptism the door of admission into 
his Church. 

"In this view of the subject, I was compelled to lay before 
the district meeting of the Republican Methodist Church, so 
called, my reasons for requiring an authority to minister in 
the Church of Christ, which they had not to give, and to re- 
quest a letter of dismission from their communion. This was 
granted me by the congregation of which I was a member, 
in the most friendly and affectionate manner. The other dis- 
senting denominations among us I found in the same situa- 
tion; all of them, according to my view, acting upon usurped 
authority; though I paused a while on the Presbyterian claim 
to apostolic succession — but as that claim could date no, far- 
ther back than the era of the Reformation, and in its first 
lines labors under the dispute whether it has actually the 
authority which mere Presbyters can bestow, (for it does not 
appear satisfactorily that Calvin ever had orders of any 
kind,) I had to turn my attention to the Protestant Episcopal 
Church for that deposit of apostolic succession, in which alone 
verifiable power to minister in sacred things was to be found 
in these United States. 

"I presented myself accordingly to Bishop Moore, in the 
city of Richmond, together with my credentials, and was by 
him received as a candidate for holy orders. The canons of 
the Church requiring that peisons applying for orders shall 
have their names inscribed in the books, as candidates, for 
one year previous to their ordination, I was furnished by 
Bishop Moure with letters of licence as a lay-reader in the 
Church, which are dated the 17th of February 1816. Having 
labored during the year in the parishes of Cumberland, in 
Lunenburg county, and of St. James, in the county of Meck- 
lenburg, with acceptance, and, by the blessing of God, with 
effect, particularly in St. Jameses parish, 1 was most ear- 
nestly invited to take charge of the latter congregation, as 
their minister. This invitation I accepted; and having re- 
ceived the necessary testimonials from the Standing Com- 



20 MEMOIE. 

mittee of the Diocese, and passed the requisite trials, I was 
admitted to the office of Deacon in the Church, on Friday, 
the 25th day of April 1817, in the Monumental Church, in 
the city of Richmond; and for reasons satisfactory to the 
.Bishop and Standing Committee of the Diocese, by virtue of 
the canon in such case made and provided, 1 was admitted 
to the order of Priest; and ordained thereto in the church in 
the town of Fredericksburg, on Tuesday, the 0th day of May 
following, (lining the session" of the Convention in that place. 
On returning to my parish, deeply impressed with the awful 
commission intrusted to me, and with the laborious task of 
rescuing from inveterate prejudice the doctrines, discipline, 
and worship of the Church, and of reviving among the peo- 
ple that regard for it, to which it is truly entitled, 1 com- 
menced my ministerial labors, as the only real business I 
ii"\v had in life, relying on God's mercy and goodness, through 
the Loi:i> J i>i s CuuisT, for fruit to his praise." 



** 



The most obvious reflection winch occurs on the reading 
of this bi>t"rv of the motions of Mr. Ravenscroft's mind, 
when he was about to ;i-.-ume the character of a minister in 
the Church, is, that he was brought to the result he men- 
tion.-, contrary to established prejudices', and without any 
extraneous influence. The simple fact of his having first 
joined a body of Christians, the fundamental principle of 
wh"-e - rietv is the rejection of allorder and all creeds, 
shows how far removed in attachment he was from that 
Church which S"ubseque$tdy became so dear to him. Having 
become §p far bound to that society as to be a prominent 
leader in it, and entertaining the warmest personal regard 
formany of those with whom lie was in communion, it is 
probable that his inclinations, so far from according with the 
dictate^ of his reason and judgment, on the important subject 
of Orders, would have rather prompted him to resist them, 
ami that the conclusion to which he ultimately came, in favor 
of the Church, was forced upon his conscience,- by the pres- 
sure of truth alone, unaided by any adventitious circum- 
stances. 



MEMOIR. 

The clergyman of the parish in whose bounds he resided, 
died about the same time when he seems to have been first 
exercised on the subject of the ministry, and though Mr. Ra- 
venscroft felt for that gentleman the sincerest attachment, 
and on many occasions sought his aid and counsel in his reli- 
gious course, yet his death deprived him of the assistance he 
might have otherwise looked for from that quarter, in his 
more enlarged inquiries. He was thus left, to use his own 
expression, "to his own resources and the word of God," and 
guided alone by the light of the latter, he attained that per- 
fect conviction of the exclusive Divine right, appertaining to 
Episcopal ministrations, which he asserted so unwaveringly 
in his after life. 

A reference to these circumstances has been here made, 
as they account, in some measure, for the inflexibility of Mr. 
Ravenscroft on the subject of Episcopacy ever afterwards. 
Had he been trained up from a child to love and to venerate 
the Church, or had he been led by the mere force of educa- 
tion or of expediency to become a member and a minister of 
it, it is possible that his feelings in relation to it might have 
been somewhat different from what they were. An ingenu« x 
ous mind like his, would have made some allowances for the 
prejudices of education, even in regard to its own reasonings, 
and still more for the bias given by inclination or accidental 
circumstances. Conscious of the general effect of these cau- 
ses, it might have sometimes faltered in urging the exclusive 
truth of opinions formed under their influence, and have oc- 
casional misgivings that its conclusions were not necessarily 
correct. But there were no such sources of indecision to 
operate upon Mr. Ravenscroft's conduct. He had arrived at 
a .conclusion adverse to established opinions, and contrary, 
as may Be presumed, to his own wishes. He had to make 
the painful and often humiliating sacrifice of sentiments al- 
ready avowed and acted upon — to separate himself from a 
Society to which he was warmly attached, and which had 
evidenced its attachment to him, by an appointment to a re- 
sponsible station; and on the other hand, was drawn by the 
word of God to a Church, whose principles (so far, at least, 
as regards the necessity of government and established creeds) 
were as much opposed to those of the society to which he 



22 



MEMOIR. 



belonged, as two communions professing to worship the same 
Gon, could be. It is very apparent, that under circumstances 
like these, Mr. Ravenscroft must have been actuated by the 
most assured conviction that the opinions he embraced were 
in strict and exclusive accordance with the Bible, and that 
he was not justifiable in holding, and still less in preaching, 
any others. And when once the veil of prejudice was re- 
moved from his eyes, his vigorous mind clearly discerned 
that these opinions, if true, and if taught by God himself, 
were not to be covered up and kept out of view because they 
differed from the vain imaginations of men. As a faithful 
servant, lie paid more regard to the injunctions of his Master, 
than to the clamors of those whose errors lie denounced; and 
believing the opinions referred to, to be, without question, 
distinctly revealed, he shrunk not from what he conceived 
to l»e his imperative duty, in preaching them. From the 
hour that he connected himself with the Church, his opinions 
respecting its character, its doctrine, and its discipline, were 
decidedly and ayowedjy 6f that kind known by the appel- 
lation i>f High Church priricijiles, and as he progressed in 
Christian experience, and in the knowledge of the word of 
God, and «.f the writings of those fathers who are considered 
its best interpreters, his opinions only became the more clear 
and confirmed. 

In preaching in public, and advocating in private, these 
opinions, which he regarded as essential to the validity of 
the ministrations that he exercised, Mr. Ravenscroft still re- 
tained that earnestness of manner and ardor of expression, 
which, besides being constitutional, had been habitual with 
him for near forty years; and many who had no opportunities 
of knowing the kindliness of his nature and the warmth of 
Ins Christian benevolence, were disposed to regard him as 
overbearing and uncharitable; but in his case, as in many 
others, the character of the Christian was modified, without 
being spoiled by the constitution of the man; and his ear- 
nestness and ardor were certainly unaccompanied with the 
defilements of malice or of bigotry. The circumstances al- 
ready mentioned, attending his union with the Church, made 
him repose unusual confidence in the conclusions at which 
he had arrived, and the ardent gratitude to God, for his long 



MEMOIR. 



23 



forbearance towards himself, which was unquestionably the 
distinguishing trait of his Christian character, prompted him 
to the most devoted zeal in His service. These combined 
causes might make him at times appear positive and impor- 
tunate; but whoever had an opportunity of contemplating 
him in his private intercourse with his flock, and of witness- 
ing his gentle and paternal deportment towards them, knew 
that these outward indications of harshness had no corre- 
spondent feelings in his bosom. 

Mr. Raven scroft's character as a. Christian was fully appre- 
ciated by the little flock over which he was now the over- 
seer, and his labors as a minister were attended with very 
gratifying success. At the time that he first connected him- 
self as a lay reader with it, the Liturgy of the Church was 
entirely unknown, except in one family; and in fifteen months 
afterwards he had a large congregation of "attentive hearers 
and devout worshippers," who erected for their use a com- 
modious place of public worship. To some, however, his 
preaching was very offensive, and brought upon him that 
reproach to which the faithful minister of Christ lias been 
liable in every period of the world. To the rich and worldly- 
minded, especially, to whom he had been so long allied in 
feeling and in practice, he now addressed his most heart- 
searching appeals, and familiar as he was with all their shifts 
and evasions, he exposed them to themselves with a fidelity 
and truth of coloring which they could not tolerate. Preach- 
ing of this kind, which they knew not how to resist, they af- 
fected to despise, and this faithful minister, though never de- 
terred for a moment from revealing the whole of God's will, 
was much and often grieved at the deadness and coldness of 
this class of his hearers. To those, too, from whom he dif- 
fered in opinion respecting the constitution of the Church, he 
often gave serious offence; and in one of the congregations 
which he served he met from this source with many painful 
impediments. But with a remarkable self-devotion and de- 
cision of character, he pursued the tenor of his way, alike 
undismayed by the reproaches of his adversaries, and un- 
changed by the admiration of his friends. He seems to have 
been actuated by an unbounded sense of God's mercy to- 



24 MEMOIR. 

wards himself, and to have thought the dedication to his ser- 
vice of all the energies of his body and mind, far from being 
an adequate acknowledgment of the divine bounty: doubtless 
the recollection of the many years, during which his talent 
had been buried, added to his diligence in preparing for the 
coming of his Lord. 

Having lost his first wife in the year 1814, Mr. Ravens- 
croft was married to his second wife in the year ISIS. This 
lady, to whom he was ever a most affectionate husband, and 
whose consistent Christian character was at once a comfort 
and an aid to him during their union, was Miss Buford, of 
Lunenburg county; the daughter of one of his oldest friends. 
In the ensuing winter he sustained a severe loss by fire, hav- 
ing had his dwelling house, and all it contained, burnt du- 
ring his absence from h<>me. This loss, joined to his profuse 
generosity, and probably his diminished attention to his se- 
cular affairs after he entered the ministry, reduced consider- 
ably the value of his estajte, and after this period he was, in 
part, dependent Upon the support which he derived from his 
connexion with his parish. 

Hi- attention t<> the duties of his calling, which lie suffered 
nothing to divert, was indeed remarkable. His punctuality 
as ;. miijister, for instance, was so exact, that during the whole 
time he officiated as deacon and priest, he was never known 
;«» fail in keeping an appointment. Relying, with a confi- 
dence which ultimately became fatal, upon the vigor and 
stability of his constitution, he set at naught all kinds of wea- 
ther, while engaged in duties that called him from home. 
Even when the weather was so inclement that he would not 
permit his servant, who acted as the sexton to his churches, 
to accompany him, he would himself take the keys and ride 
off alone live or ten miles to the regular place of worship, 
without, pcrhap-, the slightest expectation of meeting an in- 
dividual, and sometimes, as he used to express himself, 
"would ride around the Church when the snow was a foot 
deep, and leave Ms track as a testimony against 7ns people" 
This seemingly supererogatory exposure of himself he found 
necessary for some members of his congregation. "If," said 
he, "they could say with any sort of plausibility — the wea- 
ther is bad to-day, and Mr. Ravenscroft will not turn out;, 



MEMOIR. 



the consequence would be that the slightest inclemency would 
avail them as an excuse for staying at home; but I put a stop 
to all such evasions, by being always at Church, let the wea- 
ther be what it may, and they can always calculate with cer- 
tainty upon meeting me if they choose to turn out themselves." 

All this diligence and devotion did not fail to be attended 
with their usual and natural results. By the blessing of God 
upon his labors, the seed which he sowed with so much in- 
dustry and fidelity, and watered with fervent and unceasing 
prayers, brought forth a large and rapid increase, not only in 
his own parish, but wherever he had thrown it by the way- 
side. An eminent member of the diocese of Virginia, him- 
self an active laborer in his Lord's vineyard, the late Dr. 
Wiliner, writes to Mr. Ravenscroft about this period, to the 
following effect: "The Lord of the vineyard seems to be 
granting you the rare favor, that as you have entered late 
into his service you should have the honor and reward of 
doing much in a short space — while we who have been longer 
at the work hardly begin to enter upon the fruits, you at once 
seem to have reaped a glorious harvest. You get even more 
than your 'penny.' " 

Neither were Mr. Ravenscroft's influence and usefulness 
circumscribed within the sphere of his parochial duties. 
Though young in the ministry, his powerful talents and evi- 
•dent singleness of purpose in his ministerial labors acquired 
for him a degree of consideration amongst his brethren, 
which he did not fail to use for the good of the Church and 
the glory of God. Besides the active and efficient part which 
he took in the councils of the Church, and of the several so- 
cieties under its control, he hesitated not to stimulate his 
fellow-laborers, by the most affectionate appeals, to constant 
diligence and faithfulness, and amongst his papers are found 
letters thanking him for his '"friendly smitings." One of his 
correspondents says in reply: "I concur with you on the im- 
portance and necessity of our bringing before the people 
more faithfully the distinctive principles and features of the 
Church. There has been a lamentable deficiency among 
many of us — at least I speak for myself. It appears to me 
that the best mode is to do it gradually, by private instruc- 
tion, by tracts and books, and especially by forming the rising 



26 MEMOIR. 

generation upon the primitive model. This I shall endeavor 
to do, by the grace of God." That this labor of love on his 
part was not regarded as obtrusive or unkindly performed, 
appears abundantly from other parts of this correspondence. 
"Happy am I," says his correspondent, u in the belief that 
we agree in the main point, and that no difference of opinion 
will be sufficient to interrupt that brotherly love, which, it is 
a great part of my happiness to believe, subsists between us." 
In the years 1820 and 1821 the subject of baptism under- 
went a very extensive examination in the Theological Reper- 
tory, a periodical under the patronage of the Virginia Con- 
vention, and edited by some of its ablest ministers. Although 
the views held by the Editors in relation to that sacrament 
were opposed to the sentiments of Mr. Ravenscroft, and it 
wae a Miliject, too, in which he took a very great interest, he 
did not (contrary to the received opinion of his fondness for 
controversy i enter into the lists with them as a public oppo- 
nent. Circumstances, however, ultimately brought him into 
collision with the principal writer in the Repertory, and a 
long and interesting private correspondence ensued between 
them, begun, continued, and ended', with the most Christian 
temper and brotherly love. The circumstances referred to, 
are these: A lady of Fairfax county, in the immediate vicin- 
ity of which the Repertory was published, distracted proba- 
bly by the opposite views of baptism, which she found in the 
pages of that work, (for the Editors candidly admitted con- 
tributions from able men on both sides of the question,) ap- 
plied to Mr. Ravenscroft by letter for counsel and instruc- 
tion. This he did not hesitate or delay to give, and as the 
subject is one of universal and paramount interest, his letter 
in reply is here inserted. 

To Mrs. Iiohinson, Fairfax County, Virginia. 

Makeshift, 11th July, 1820. 
Pear Madam: 

Your favor of the 22d June was received on 
Saturday, and it is with pleasure that I take the first spare 
hour 1 have to reply to it. 

Whatever difficulty yourself and many others may labor 



MEMOIR. 

under upon this subject, proceeds altogether from confound- 
ing two subjects altogether distinct, viz: Regeneration and 
Conversion: both to be sure essential to us as sinners, but in 
a manner distinct from each other. 

A right view of our situation as fallen creatures, spiritually 
dead, points to some means or other to do away the disabil- 
ity consequent on original transgression, and render us capa- 
ble of profiting by the gracious means God hath provided in 
his Son and made known by the gospel. This is the starting 
place to us on every thing that relates to religion. Without 
this, it would be as absurd to expect any motions of spiritual 
life, or any capacity of spiritual improvement, as for a body 
really dead .to move and act. Regeneration, then, is a grace 
imparted to us by Almighty God, restoring, to some extent, 
not precisely designated in Scripture, that capacity for spir- 
itual improvement lost by the fall; which puts us once more 
upon trial as it were, with better hopes, more effectual means, 
and surer promises ratified in the blood of God's dear and 
only Son. In this work of God upon the soul we are purely 
passive. It is a grace, or rather grace imparted, a power 
communicated, if we may so speak, (for language is very 
poor in many things relating to the mystery of our redemp- 
tion,) the first effect of Christ's gracious undertaking, to bear 
the penalty of our sins, that he might bring us to God. 

This is the first and highest sense in which the word re- 
generation is used, and may with sufficient propriety be 
called a being bom again, but more properly in the words of 
the apostle Peter, a heing begotten again. 

But there is another sense in w T hich the word regeneration 
is used, which it is proper to notice; and that is in its appli- 
cation to the change of outward condition, which takes place 
when we become openly and visibly parties to the new cove- 
nant made with God in Christ. 

By our natural birth we are parties to nothing but the curse 
entailed upon sin; our birthright is only that of "strangers to 
the covenants of promise," "having no hope and without God 
in the world." And would we have this destitute state re- 
moved, we must, in that manner which the wisdom of God 
hath seen fit to appoint, personally subscribe to the terms 
and conditions on which the benefits purchased for us by the 



28 MEMOIR. 

sufferings and death of Jesus Christ are promised and as- 
sured. In the Old Testament Church, God was pleased to 
appoint the rite of circumcision for this purpose; by which 
every descendant of Abraham became a party to all the hopes 
which the promised seed of the woman was in the fulness of 
time to bring to them and all nations; and in this sense it is 
that our Saviour, speaking of Jewish children, calls them 
"those little ones which believe in him, ; ' styling them be- 
lievers, because they were, by circumcision, parties to the 
covenant made with him as the representative of the human 
race. 

In the New Testament Church, the ordinance of baptism 
is the appointed and only means to change our condition by 
nature, and bring us into relation with God as heirs of the 
promise. By die water of baptism, and by that only, (to the 
exclusion of all other modes and means, according to reve- 
lation,) can we obtain an interest in Cukist, by being admit- 
ted into that Church, which he "purchased with his own most 
precious blood." "Except a man be born of water and of 
the spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." 

In both these senses the word regeneration is used in our 
baptismal service — first as an expression of an effect pro- 
duced in bestowing spiritual grace: secondly to denote a 
change of condition — that those rightly baptized are "no 
more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the 
saints and <>f the household of Gon." 

A careful examination of the office fur Baptism will show 
vou, that such is the meaning which the Church attaches to 
the wdrd regeneraUdni and if attended to as it ought to be, 
would not only prevent the confusion of mind consequent on 
confounding regeneration and conversion, but restore the or- 
dinance itself to that respect in the eyes of Christians to 
which it is so highly entitled. 

In the sense abfcve explained, I used the expression "Laver 
of regeneration," respecting baptism — a phrase taken from 
the brazen laver mentioned in the thirtieth chapter of Exodus, 
verse 18th, eVc, in which the priests were to wash before 
they presented any offering to the Lord; the whole being an 
emblem of that purity which should accompany those who 
are dedicated to the service of God, which children certainly 



MEMOIK. 



are in baptism. The expression I think warranted by what 
is spoken of this ordinance and its effects in the epistles. In 
that to Titus, third chapter and 5th verse, St. Paul says, 
"Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but 
according to his mercy he saved us by the washing of regene- 
ration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost." In his first Epistle 
to the Corinthians, the sixth chapter, and 11th verse, speaking 
of the effect of baptism on the members of that Church, 
"And such were some of you, but ye are washed, but ye are 
sanctified, but ye are justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, 
and by the Spirit of our God." And to the Ephesians, fifth 
chapter, and 26th verse, speaking of the love of Christ to his 
Church, and his purpose in giving himself for it, "that he 
might sanctity and cleanse it with the washing of water, by 
the word." There are many more passages in the New Tes- 
tament which apply to this ordinance, and if duly considered, 
could not fail to impress Christians with a more reverential 
sense of the rite itself, and of the blessings and obligations 
growing out of it. But in the divisions among us, and from 
seeing it administered by any and every person who chooses 
to assume the ministerial character, yea, moreover, to hear 
it decried and derided by some in its application to infants 
of believing parents, we have gradually lost sight of its high 
purpose in the Church — the solemn obligations it imposes 
are lost sight of, and the mighty benefits of which it is the 
seal, have dwindled down to a mere ceremony for giving a 
name. A more solemn sense of it, I trust, is entertained by 
yourself and your husband, both as regards yourselves and 
your children, and in fulfilling that solemn vow under which 
it laid you, you may fully expect God's promised blessing on 
your faithful endeavor to "train them up in the nurture and 
admonition of the Lord." 

Conversion, on the other hand, is the consequence of re- 
pentance on the part of the sinner — an additional grace or 
favor of God, known only to the gospel — a provision of mercy 
through the mediation of Christ, by which those who have 
abused the grace conferred in regeneration, and by personal 
sin have again departed from God, on sincere repentance and 
renewed obedience, are once more received into a state of favor; 

In this, however, we are not passive, inasmuch as the warn- 



30 memoir. 

ings of the word, and the admonitions of the Holy Spirit, are 
to be attended to and improved, seeing it is a matter of choice 
OB the part of the sinner whether he will be moved by con- 
siderations of religion to cease from the error of his ways — to 
turn to the means of grace provided for his good and in 
obedience to the convincing power of the Holy Spirit, by 
hearty repentance and true faith flee to the cross of Christ 
for pardon and acceptance, and for renewed power to love 
Goo and to keep his commandments. Of this every con- 
verted .-inner must have the experience, for such cannot but 
be sensible how often during their career of folly and rebel- 
lion, the good Spirit of God interposed to stop them, and 
turn them from the broad and beaten road of destruction, to 
the .-trait and narrow^ but safe way thatleadeth unto life; but 
they would not, putting away from them his gracious checks 
and admonitions, and stilling and quenching his good motions 
within them. ( )h, what miracles of grace, what patient long- 
BUffering on the part of God is treasured up in Christ Jlsus 
— especially for us gospel sinners! Surely God "is not will- 
ing that any i-hould perish, but that all should come to re- 
pentance." 

This letter having fallen into the hands of one of the parties 
to the controversy already mentioned, occasioned a further 
correspondence, which it is not proposed to insert here at 
Length. An extract from one of the letters of Mr. Havens- 
croft, will, perhaps, sullice to complete the view of his opinions 
on this momentous subject. 

"As it contributes greatly to a right understanding of each 
other in discussions of this kind, to explain the sense and 
meaning in which a leading word or phrase is made use of, I 
shall take that mode, convinced that by so doing little or no 
difference will be found between us, and if there should, that 
it will be the readiest way to attain to desired and desirable 
uniformity — for I think 1 can truly say I desire to know the 
truth. 

By the Sacrament of Baptism, I understand a mystery 
ordained by Christ himself in his Church, of perpetual obli- 
gation and essential in its nature, inasmuch as the wilful re- 
jection of it is a bar to the salvation of the gospel. I believe 



MEMOIR. 31 

it to be the only revealed means by which a child of Adam 
can enter into covenant with God in Christ, and become en- 
titled to all the benefits which his satisfaction hath procured 
for sinners. I believe it a seal or ratification of the new 
covenant; on the part of God, a visible and authentic assu- 
rance transacted by his commissioned servant, his ambas- 
sador, that the promises made in that covenant are and will 
he performed on his part: on the part of man, an open under- 
standing and thankful acceptance of the conditions of that 
covenant as declared in Christ the Mediator, with a solemn 
and public promise to keep and fulfil them. 

By Regeneration, I understand an act or operation of 
Almighty God in behalf of, and upon, the creature, for the 
communication of spiritual power, to render fallen man capable 
of religion; the production of a new principle which was not 
previously in man, neither could be attained by the applica- 
tion of any power left to him; the restoring to an extent not 
precisely declared in Scripture, nor needful to be known, the 
spiritual power, or qualification, or whatever it may be called, 
lost by the sin of Adam, and required to put him once 
more in a state of trial; the germ of any and every religious 
attainment. 

This seems to me to be the original scriptural ground, on 
which the Church connects regeneration with baptism — not 
in the judgment of charity, as you contend, but absolutely 
and virtually flowing from the promise, as connected with 
the ordinance. For the promise of the new covenant is, "A 
new heart also will I give you, and I will put my spirit with- 
in you." Now the question is, when is this done? The 
Church assumes, on the sure ground of Scripture, that this 
blessing is conferred in baptism; and the 27th Article and 
the Office for baptism are framed accordingly. They har- 
monize completely. Nor is there the smallest need for the 
exercise of charity, to enable us to believe that a gracious 
God, having been pleased to connect his promise with a sen- 
sible sign, to be administered only b} ? the authority of Christ 
in his Church, does most surely fulfil it. 

To this it is objected, that we do not find the fact verified 
by experience; — all baptized persons, even those baptized in 
the Church, do not show by any difference from others that 



MEMOIR. 

they are regenerate. To this I reply, that the objection is 
founded on the mistaken, though popular, meaning attached 
to the word regeneration; and, therefore, is not a good one: 
or it is founded on the Calvinistical notion of indefectible 
grace, which is not the doctrine of the Church — as is evident 
from the 16th article, — nor yet the doctrine of the gospel. 
The Church declares the grace given in baptism to be an 
"inward," and, therefore, ''invisible, spiritual grace:" but it 
is not on that account the less real. Neither is it. any argu- 
ment against the fact, that the majority of baptized persons 
are found sinners in practice even as others. The Church is 
aware of this melancholy possibility, and guards by every 
mean- against it; and when she delivers back the regenerate 
infant to those who have undertaken the charge of its spirit- 
ual growthj she take- from them the most solemn obligation 
accountable creatures can enter into, to foster and cherish the 
seed of divine grace in the heart, and "train up the child in 
the nurture and admonition of the Lord." When this shall 
be done in the spirit of the institution, and the same unhappy 
result attend the administration of the ordinance, then will 
the objection be a good one, but not till then. 

1, therefore, understand the Church, in the Office for bap- 
tism, t<> mean what the words convey — that she does not pre- 
tend to confer an uncertain or conjectural benefit in the hap- 
ten which she administers by the authority of Christ; that 
she d"es not return thanks for a visionary or problematical 
blessing conferred on the infant baptized, depending on the 
judgment of charity for comfort and assurance to those interest- 
ed; nor yet by the word- "they that receive baptism rightly," 
made use of in the 27th Article, do I understand any allusion 
to the state of the parties baptized, as worthy or unworthy, 
but the lawful authority to administer it, on which its 
efficiency altogether depends." 



The interest that Mr. Ravenscroft took in this subject, 
"with which he believed the whole frame and polity of the 
Church to be connected," was so great, and the importance 
of a right understanding of it was in his view so paramount, 



MEMOIR. 33 

that the foregoing extracts have been given at the hazard of 
their being thought to occupy an undue space in this memoir. 
It is a subject, too, not only important, but according to his 
opinion greatly neglected, and the space may not be mis- 
spent, which is occupied in recording his sentiments in rela- 
tion to it. "It is not to be disguised," he says at the close of 
his controversial correspondence, "that many among us have 
become loose on the subject of baptism. The solemn influ- 
ential character belonging to it, is nearly lost sight of. The 
use is declining from day to day, so that from a sacrament it 
is dwindling down to a mere ceremony for naming a child. 
Let us endeavor to bring back parents and sponsors to a right 
understanding of their solemn duty under the baptismal 
covenant; and surely no argument can be stronger to produce 
this serious sense of that duty, than the consideration that 
they receive from the hands of the Church, a little creature, 
now in covenant with God, prepared to profit by instruction, 
to repay their anxious love with piety in time, and glory in 
eternity." 

In the year 1823, Mr. Ravenscroft received an invitation 
to take charge of the large and flourishing congregation at 
Norfolk. Not conceiving that any call of duty accompanied 
this invitation, he promptly declined it, "as nothing in the 
shape of emolument could move him from where he was, 
and induce him to sacrifice his predilections and attachment 
to his own little flock." Shortly afterwards, however, he re- 
ceived a call from the vestry of the Monumental Church, in 
Richmond, to be the assistant to the venerable Bishop Moore, 
who had charge of that congregation. Regarding the ser- 
vices of the Bishop, which, were seriously interrupted and 
hindered by his large parochial charge, as too valuable to the 
diocese to be lost through any impediment opposed by his 
private inclinations, Mr. Ravenscroft was preparing to yield 
to what he considered as an imperative call of duty, and to 
accept this invitation, when a call of a yet more imperative 
nature reached him from another quarter, which his con- 
science, that great master-spring to all his actions, at once 
forbade him to reject. 

The Church in North Carolina had shared the same fate, 
during the Revolutionary war, that had involved all other 
[Vol. l,— *3.] 



34 MEMOIR. 

portions of it in this country in so much gloom and depres- 
sion. The violent prejudices (to the injustice of which it is 
hardly necessary now to recur) which had brought odium 
and persecution upon its ministers elsewhere, existed here in 
their full vigor. The effect, indeed, of these prejudices seems 
bo have been more remarkable in Xorth Carolina than any 
where else. The cry of "Down with it, down with it even to 
the ground," accomplished the wishes of the enemies of the 
Church; and k?ng after Zion had arisen froili the dust, and 
put oh her beautiful garments, in other portions of her bor- 
ders, her children here had still to weep when they remem- 
bered her. 

It was not until the year 1817, that the three clergymen 
who had but recent] ) been called to the towns of Fayetteville, 
Wilmington, and Newbefn, encouraged by some influential 
lajmeq in the two foet mentioned towns, proposed a conven- 
tion for the purpose of organizing the Church in this State. 
A < 'invention was accordingly held in Newbern, in the month 
of June of that year, attended by three clergymen and six or 
eight lay delegates; when a constitution was adopted, and an 
address made to the friends of the Church throughout the 
State, proposing a second Convention in the ensuing year. 
This second Convention was more numerously attended than 
the former, and the Church from that time continued rapidly 
to increase — or, to speak more properly, perhaps — to revive 
from her long and deadly torpor. 

Under the patriarchal supervision of the venerable Bishop 
of Virginia, who was invited by the Convention to take 
episcopal charge oi the diocese, this increase assumed a sta- 
ble and progressive character, and within six years from the 
lime of the first Convention, there were twenty-five congre- 
gations attached to the Church. This numerical force, how- 
ever, exhibits rather an exaggerated view of the real condi- 
tion of the diocese. Some well-meaning but injudicious mis- 
sionaries, under the influence of that fervor of feeling usually 
attendant upon a state of prosperity, had formed nominal 
congregations where there were in fact very few or no Epis- 
copalians. Bishop Moore's engagements in Virginia, both 
to the diocese and to his parish, never allowed him time to 
visit these congregations, and discover their actual condition; 



MEMOIR. 35 

and after remaining some time unfruitful branches of the 
main stock, and appearing from a distance to add to its 
strength, they at length withered and fell off, from the want 
of that vital principle which they had never possessed. And 
even in the more established and better informed cona-rega- 
tions, there were many individuals who had attached them- 
selves to the Church from motives entirely distinct from a 
discerning and rational preference for her peculiar character. 
Hereditary predilections, convenience, and accidental cir- 
cumstances, afforded a sufficient motive with many; while 
comparatively few had been led to a candid examination, and 
a consequent, acknowledgment of her distinctive claims. 

The number of clergymen was small, in proportion to the 
extent of country over which the friends of the Church were 
scattered; and even of that small number, there were some 
who, acting under that notion of charity which teaches us to 
shrink from the search of truth, lest, when found, it should 
show our neighbor to be in error, avoided the urging of 
claims which were unpalatable to so many. 

These spots of unsoundness in a body otherwise healthy 
and vigorous, evidently required excision; and the more in- 
telligent friends of the Church began to look around for some 
skilful and steady hand to which the operation should be in- 
trusted. The peculiar state of feeling engendered by the ex- 
istence of these loose opinions, both in the members of the 
Church themselves and in others, obviously demanded that 
the agent of reform should possess nerve, as well as skill, and 
not be deterred from his duty, either by the reproaches of 
the looker-on, or by the timidity and alarms of the patient. 
The character of Mr. Ravenscroft, (for he was at this time 
personally known to but one *clergyman in the diocese,) as 
exemplified by the manner and success of his preaching, ap- 
peared to be happily adapted to this emergency. Ardent in 
his personal piety, zealous in preaching the Gospel in its ut- 
most purity, disinterested in all his aims, and possessing in 
no ordinary degree talents for pulpit and pastoral usefulness, 
it was believed that the uncompromising firmness with which 
he held and preached the whole of God's revealed will, would 
at least receive the meed of praise for sincerity and single* 

*Rev. W. M. Green. 



36 



MEMOIR. 



heartedness, even from his opponents; while the sheep of his 
own fold would be reclaimed from those mazes of error and 
ignorance into which other shepherds might not have had 
tlie hardihood to follow them. This view of Mr. Ravens- 
croft's fitness for the station, operating upon the leading mem- 
bers of the Convention of 1^23, and a high respect for his 
character as a Christian and a minister, influencing others, 
he was unanimously elected Bishop of the diocese of North 
Carolina, at a Convention held in Salisbury, and attended by 
all the clergy and an unusually full delegation of laymen. 
He did not hesitate in accepting a call which he regarded as 
being in a peculiar manner a providential one. Personally 
known to scarcely an individual of the Convention which had 
unanimously elected him Bishop, it seemed to him "as if the 
hand of Providence was in it;" and though the same distrust 
of himself, that had awakened in him so many doubts respect- 
ing his fitness for the ministry at all, vet operated in making 
him lav aside all self-reliance, the same submission to the 
leadings of his great Master, and the same confiding trust in 
his sustaining grace, made him determine at once to follow 
the difficult path now opened to him. His election having 
preceded the Bitting of the General Convention but a few 
uvik-, he wafl famished with the requisite testimonial to be 
laid before that body preparatory to his consecration, and 
accordingly received his hi<rh commission, in the city of Phil- 
adelphia, on the 22d day of April 1823, at the hands of the 
venerable Bishop White, — Bishops Criswold, Kemp, Croes, 
Bowen, and Brownell, being also present, and assisting. 

The pecuniary ability of the Church in North Carolina be- 
ing but limited, the Convention in offering what they were 
able to give, allowed to Mr. Ravenscroft the privilege of de- 
voting one-half of his time to the service of a parish, so that 
the conjoined means of the Diocese and the parish might af- 
ford a decent and adequate income. The neglect of his pri- 
vate affairs, which has already been hinted at, proceeding 
from Mr. Ravenscroft s engrossing attention to his ministerial 
duties, added to some losses sustained by him as surety for 
others, had now reduced his once ample means so much, that 
he was obliged to avail himself of this privilege; and the con- 
gregation at Raleigh inviting him to take the pastoral charge 



MEMOIR. 37 

of them, he consented to do so, and immediately upon his 
return from Philadelphia began his preparations for removal. 
Knowing, however, how urgent the wants of the Church 
were, lie did not wait for the completion of his preparations, 
but set out on his first Episcopal tour in June, within one 
month after his consecration. It would extend this memoir 
to an undue length to enter into a minute narration of Bishop 
Ravenscroft's movements in this, or indeed in any of his 
subsequent visitations; it is designed only to give such occa- 
sional extracts from his private journal and correspondence, 
as are either instructive in point of doctrine, or more than 
ordinarily interesting in point of fact. 

One of Bishop Ravenscroft's earliest endeavors after as- 
suming the care of his Diocese, was to impress upon both his 
clergy and the people of their charge, a proper estimation of 
the sacrament of Baptism, and its consequent, the apostolic 
rite of confirmation. These he regarded as the threshold of 
the Church, and when duly administered and worthily re- 
ceived, would guard the body of the Church from the intru- 
sion of the unprepared. "I consider," says he, in a letter to 
one of his clergy, "in general terms, Confirmation equivalent 
to a profession of religion on conviction and experience." 
And to another he says, "from the nature of things, it is im- 
possible that I can have any knowledge of the qualifications 
of the persons who offer themselves for Confirmation. I must 
therefore depend entirely upon your diligence in preparing, 
and faithfulness in presenting those only of your charge who 
have a just view of the rite, and are properly impressed with 
the obligations growing out of it, and the benefits to be de- 
rived from it. Much obloquy has heretofore grown out of 
the easiness with which candidates for confirmation have 
been presented and received by the Church, and occasion 
lias thence been taken against us by our opponents. This I feel 
extremely anxious to avoid, and as no lax habits in this respect 
have yet obtained in the Diocese, so to commence and con- 
tinue by the blessing of God, that they may be prevented 
from creeping in." His views on Baptism have been already 
given at large, and need not be here repeated. 

During his first visitation, and in the interval occurring 



38 MEMOEE. 

between it and the ensuing Convention, the Bishop discov- 
ered in its full extent the actual condition of the Church, as 
it has already been described. He saw, that as a faithful 
overseer, it was his duty, however painful it might be to him- 
self, and however offensive to others, to correct the mistakes 
into which so many of his flock had fallen — to apprise them 
of the duties resulting from their connexion with a Church 
which was founded upon the primitive model, and to open 
their eyes to that delusive notion of charity, which, in its 
natural consequences, must eventuall3 T lead to the acknow- 
ledgment of all error. He accordingly opened the delibera- 
tions of the first Convention after his consecration with a ser- 
mon containing his views and opinions regarding the Church, 
and the most efficient means of promoting its increase and 
prosperity, and unreservedly communicating the details of 
the course whieh he, as its guardian and Bishop, meant to 
pursue. The stand which he took upon this occasion, and 
which he maintained during his whole Episcopacy, was per- 
haps somewhat higher than would have accorded with his 
wishes, had he not been feelingly alive to the solemn respon- 
sibility whieh his peculiar situation imposed upon him. As 
the Bishop of a new diocese, which had never enjoyed regu- 
lar Episcopal ministrations, and where there consequently 
existed much looseness of opinions, and indeed ignorance, 
respecting the real nature and divine character of the Church, 
he felt himself called fee a more than ordinary circumspection 
and fidelity. The future condition of the diocese was to be 
determined in a great degree bv the character it was to as- 
snnie under his forming hand; while her clergy, with a reli- 
ance upon him which his eminent piety and great talents 
demanded, seemed to confide the control of ecclesiastical af- 
fairs almost exclusively to him, and to be ready to pursue 
whatever course' his powerful mind and more enlarged op- 
portunities of judging of the wants of the diocese might in- 
dicate. Acting under a sense of obligation resulting from 
these several causes, after instructing his clergy in the first 
2>lacc, to preach, "the entire spiritual death and alienation 
of man from (ion, by the entertainment of sin; the reconcili- 
ation of (tod to the world, by the sufferings and death of his 
only begotten Son; the atonement of his blood; justification 



MEMOIR. 39 

by faith; acceptance through the merits of the Saviour; con- 
version of the heart to God; holiness of life, the only evidence 
of it; and the grace of God, in the renewal of the Holt 
Ghost, the sole agent from first to last in working out our 
salvation from sin here, and from hell hereafter" — he pro- 
ceeds to point out that kind of preaching which was further 
required of them by the peculiar condition of the diocese: 
'■But, with these vital, and heaven-blessed doctrines, other 
points of edification to those of your charge, and to your gen- 
eral hearers, will require your attention, my reverend bro- 
thers; particularly that of the distinctive character of the 
Church. On this, a most lamentable ignorance prevails, and 
most unfounded opinions are becoming established, not only 
among Episcopalians, but at large. To permit this ignorance 
to continue undisturbed, is to be false to our ordination vows, 
to our acknowledged principles, to the interests of our com- 
munion, and to the souls committed to our care; and however 
amiable in appearance the principle on which we act may 
be, reflection shows it to be a mistaken one, and experience 
proves it to have been injurious. If we hold principles that 
are indefensible, let us abandon them. But if they are our 
principles, interwoven into the very frame of our polit}', im- 
pregnable in their truth, and essential in the great work we 
have in hand, let us not appear ashamed of them, or weakly 
afraid of the consequences, and thus become parties to that 
miserable delusion, which weakens us as a body, strengthens 
the ranks of our adversaries, and, I will fearlessly say, weak- 
ens the cause of true religion, by tacitly owning one divi- 
sion after another, until the great master principle of the 
Church of God, its unity, is merged in the mass of Christian 
names, and swallowed up by the indifference and infidelity 
thus fostered." 

Such was the rule of preaching prescribed by Bishop Ea- 
venscroft in his first official sermon, and it may be consid- 
ered as descriptive of the course which lie ever afterwards 
pursued himself, and expected of his clcigy. While on all 
occasions he preached with earnestness the doctrine of "sal- 
vation by grace, through faith," he deemed it no less his du- 
ty to preach the divinely instituted means for the attainment 
of this end. He rejected as presumptuous the distinction 



40 MEMOIR. 

made between the essentials and the non-essentials of the 
gospel, and felt himself constrained alike to obey and to teach 
all the requirements of God's revealed will. In the view 
which the bishop took of the character of the Church, and of 
the course which his vows as a Christian minister would com- 
pel him to pursue, he was sustained by the concurrence of a 
large majority of his diocese, and of all his clergy, with one 
exception. The difference between that gentleman and the 
bi?hop was so fundamental, and the objections to the Church 
on the part of the former were so conscientiously entertained, 
and so deeply routed, that they eventuated in his voluntary 
secession, notwithstanding the very great reluctance with 
which the bishop parted with him. 

Much calumny against Bishop Iiavenseroft resulted from 
this circumstance, and as he, from delicate motives, shrunk 
from a vindication of his conduct during his life, justice to 
his memorj requires that it. should here be made. It will be 
Been that ho was wholly passive iu the business, and that the 
clergyman alluded to withdrew from the Church in conse- 
quence of long established opinions, while the official part 
which the bishop had necessarily to act was characterized by 
the utmost kindness, and courtesy. This can be sufficiently 
shown by a few extracts from the letters of that gentleman, 
without making public the whole correspondence. Immedi- 
ately after the convention of 1824 the bishop received a letter 
of which the following are extracts: 

"My views on many points are so different from yours — 
the sentiments proclajmec] in your convention sermon are so 
repugnant to my feelings, that I cannot co-operate in the 
maintenance and propagation of them." — "I look upon all 
other denominations as branches of Christ's Church equally 
with Episcopalians." — "But as you are so decidedly of an op- 
posite opinion, there seems to be no hope of a cordial con- 
currence between us in the promotion of the particular interest 
of the Episcopal Church. I would, therefore, rather with- 
draw from this station;" meaning his parish. In a subse- 
quent letter the writer says, "You speak of your disposition 
to render my way easy and comfortable. I suppose you al- 
lude to your assenting to my retirement, if I insist on it. I 
am still disposed to drop all ministerial functions for a short 



MEMOIR. 41 

time." "You ask me whether I am prepared to say that my 
ordination vows were taken upon me without due considera- 
tion? I certainly was ordained more hastily than I should 
have been, had it been left to my own choice. When I was 
questioned about my views on the subject of episcopacy, I 
answered that I knew nothing about it; and if the examina- 
tion had been as strict as such examinations ought to be, they 
would have advised me to delay." The following extracts 
will show the sense of the writer in regard to the manner in 
which the correspondence was conducted by the Bishop: "I 
owe you my thanks for the sincere kindness which marks 
your whole communication, and which would sooner disarm 
my resolution than any remarks of a different character." "I 
repeat my sincere thanks for the kind expressions and true 
friendship which your letter breathes." "Your tone of uni- 
form kindness, and the brotherly tenderness with which you 
and my other friends are disposed to treat me, deserve my 
gratitude; and if I were to consult feeling alone, as you seem 
to imply, my strongest resolutions would be almost ready to 
melt away before such treatment. Every such letter disposes 
me to say with St. Paul, 'What mean ye to weep and break 
mine heart.'" 

The Bishop was preparing to yield to the wishes of this 
gentleman in permitting him to leave the church, when ano- 
ther letter from him announced an intention of offering him- 
self to the congregation of which he was pastor, as an inde- 
pendent minister, a step which, if successful, would of course 
involve their separation from the Church, as well as his own. 
This only rendered that necessary as an act of discipline, 
which the Bishop was about to accede to, in compliance with 
the desire of the interested party; and the latter was accord- 
ingly displaced from the ministry with the usual and neces- 
sary forms. 

The fatigue and exposure incident to the situation in which 
the Bishop was now placed, added to the anxiety of mind 
necessarily attending it, began very soon to make an impres- 
sion upon his once robust frame and vigorous constitution, 
and during the whole of the second winter after his removal 
to North Carolina, he was confined by illness. Besides "the 



42 MEMOIR. 

cure of all the Churches," which, to a mind so solicitous as 
hi.-, respecting every thing that concerned their well being, 
was a source of constant and corroding anxietv, the mere 
physical labor of his annual visitations was very great. The 
farthest westers congregation was more than three hundred 
miles distant from thp most eastern one, and yet, long after 
disease had established its empire in his enfeebled frame, he 
punctually and resolutely made his yearly visits to both, and 
it was nut until he became utterly incapable of travelling, a 
short time previously to his death, that he discontinued them. 
United to these labors were his laborious and zealous services 
to hi- congregation at Raleigh as a parish priest, occupying 
the whole of his time not devoted to his active Episcopal du- 
ties 

But even his hours of sickness ami confinement were not 
hours of idleness. Just before his first illness he had been 
invited to preach before the Bible Society at its annual meet- 
ing, in December, at the city of Raleigh, although he had 
openly expressed his disapprobation of one feature in the 
constitution <»f the society. Availing himself of the occasion, 
he e\pl;iined hi- objection*, and gave in general his views of 
the proper principle upon which P>il>le Societies should be 
founded to be ino.-t efficient iii their operations. This sermon 
fearing been pulili-hed, elicited very severe animadversions 
from various quarter-, and eventually attracted the notice of 
a celebrated professor of theology in Virginia. That gentle- 
man in his stricture- upon the sermon, and the publications 
arising out of it, having assailed the Church of which Bishop 
Bavenserof) was a member and a minister, the Bishop felt 
himself imperiously called upon to stand forth to vindicate 
it from hi- aspersions. Though worn by a severe and pro- 
tracted iUnesa, the result of his labors was a masterly and 
triumphant r'nuh '<:<rt 'ion of the doctrines of the Church. This 
able controversial tract: will he foiind'in this volume, and will 
lie alike valuable to the learned churchman and to the un- 
learned Christian; to the former, as a clear and comprehen- 
sive summary of the learned labors of the fathers, and the 
brightest luminaries of the Church; to the latter, as a plain 
and irrefragable argument, establishing the divine authenti- 
city of those mini-trations upon which he relics as means for 
his spiritual sustenance. 



MEMOIR. 43 

The Bishop's health was never perfectly renovated after 
this first severe attack, but his constitution, originally hardy 
and vigorous, frequently rallied and restored him to his usual 
activity; the dedication of which intervals to his Episcopal 
labors would in turn reduce him for a time to sickness and 
confinement. The last three or four years of his life consist- 
ed almost wholly of these alternations of suffering sickness at 
home and active industry abroad. From the journal of one 
of his visitations to the western part of the diocese, we make 
the following interesting extract: 

"August 12, 1S2T — Sunday — I attended the services of the 
Moravian brethren in this place, (Salem,) which commenced 
in the chapel of the female school at half-past eight in the 
morning, and was performed in English — by singing accom- 
panied with the organ — extempore prayer standing — and a 
short discourse from Revelations iii. 11. The school is very 
numerous, and great order and uniformity is maintained. 

"At ten o'clock the services commenced in the church, by 
singing, accompanied with the organ and other instruments. 
The line is given out by the minister, and all sing sitting. 
After the singing, their Bishop, by name Benade, preached 
sitting, and with great fluency and force — though in the Ger- 
man language, and, therefore, not understood by me and the 
other visiters. After the discourse, prayer was made, at 
which the congregation stood, after which they sung and were 
dismissed. After the services I was asked into the vestry 
room, and introduced to the Bishop and one of his presby- 
ters, but had no opportunity for conversation, beyond that of 
civility. It being a festival-day commemorative of some re- 
markable event in their history, the Bishop's time was very 
limited. 

"At one o'clock their love feast was held, to which I was 
invited, and attended. At this there were no other services 
than the singing of a jubilee psalm in parts, by the choir and 
congregation, accompanied with the instrumental music, 
during which there was handed to every individual present, 
a round cake or kind of light bun, and a half pint mug of 
coffee, which was partaken of by all during the singing, as 
each was disposed. The parts performed by the choir were 
executed standing, in opposite galleries; the congregation 
sang sitting; at the close all stood to sing the hallelujah. 



44 MEMOIR. 

"After the love-feast, I had another interview with Bishop 
Benade in the vestry room, when he informed me the conram- 
njon would be administered after an interval of about two 
hours, say half past three o'clock, at which I could attend, 
either as a spectator or a communicant. To this I replied, 
that though curiosity was in part the cause of my visit to 
Salem, yet it was not the sole cause, it being my real desire, 
as we were the only two Episcopal Churches in America, 
which could and would acknowledge each other, (for the 
Romanists presented an insuperable bar,) to know more of 
them, and let them know more of us. If, therefore, I was 
present it would be as a communicant; and I must accord- 
ingly request information as to the mode of administering. 
This was immediately explained to me, and there being no- 
thing in my judgment unscriptural, or inconsistent with the 
essentials of a sacrament, I concluded to commune with them. 
At the appointed hour, the Church (meaning thereby the 
communicants) assembled, amounting to upwards of two hun- 
dred persons, and at a signal given by the bell, the vestry 
room door was opened, the organ began a solemn voluntary, 
and the Bislmp with the priests and deacon walked up to the 
altar, carrying the bread in two baskets, covered with a white 
linen cloth, themselves habited in white surplices, bound 
round the loins with a broad girdle. The wine was pre- 
viously placed upon the altar in six decanters, with glass 
mugs to distribute it. The altar was covered with white 
drapery, ornamented with festoons of artificial flowers. 

"On the Bishop's taking the chair, he gave out the line of 
a hymn, which was sung by the people to the organ, &c. lie 
then delivered a-short exhortation, and proceeded to the con- 
secration of the elements, which was exactly similar to our 
own mode, in the recitation of Scripture, and the laying of 
his hand on the bread, and on the wine, previously poured 
into the mugs. 

"When the consecration was finished, a priest, attended 
by a deacon bearing the bread on the right side of the altar, 
and another priest attended by a deaconess with the bread 
on the left side thereof, proceeded to administer to the com- 
municants in this wise. The bread was prepared very white 
and thin, unleavened, and in oblong shapes, sufficient for two 



MEMOIE. 45 

portions. On coming to me, to whom it was first presented, 
the deacon handed one of the pieces to the priest, who brake 
it, and administered to two at a time, nntil the whole Church 
had received, each row of seats rising up to receive, and 
again sitting down holding the bread in their hands. When 
the communicants were all served, the baskets were returned 
to the altar, when the Bishop and clergy having taken the 
bread likewise, the organ ceased, and all knelt down in silence 
and ate the bread. A due portion of time was appropriated 
to private devotion, and towards the close the organ struck a 
most solemn strain, to which the communicants all responded 
in a verse of a hymn sung upon their knees. 

"When this was finished, all rose up and the cup was then 
distributed, each drinking and handing to his neighbor — the 
deacons attending to replenish, and to pass it from one row 
of seats to another. The ceremony was concluded with a 

*j 

hymn of praise, and dismission of the congregation, I pre- 
sume with the apostolic benediction: and all I have to regret 
is, that I was a stranger to their language. 

"At half past seven the services again commenced, and 
were precisely similar to those in the forenoon. One of the 
priests delivered the sermon, being the same whom I heard 
in the school chapel in the morning in English — but in a 
very different style and manner of address and delivery in 
his native lan<niao;e. 

"During this service, Bishop Benade and myself sat to- 
gether, and at the close we took leave of each other, I trust 
with mutual Christian regard, and with the desire of a more 
close acquaintance. 

"Many of the original peculiarities of this body of Christian 
confessors, as respects their civil discipline, are necessarily 
done away; and the German language is retained only on ac- 
count of a few Germans among them, whose prejudices for 
their native tongue are very strong. But as they drop off, 
and the rising generation become more accustomed to the 
English language, it will ultimately preponderate. The men 
and women enter by different doors, and sit on opposite sides 
of the church. All the females, to the children, wear caps, 
uniform in their 'make; and a place is provided opposite to 
the preacher where the women who have infants sit. Strangers 



46 MEM0IE. 

are treated conrteonsly and shown to the seats proper for 
them, and notified at their lodgings of the hours of divine 
service." 



The increasing iniirmities of the Bishop made it necessary 
for him, in the beginning of the year 18:28, to give up the 
pastoral charge of the congregation at Raleigh, which, under 
his fostering care, had grown into an importance which re- 
quired more active and uninterrupted service than his de- 
clining health and engagements to the diocese permitted him 
to bestow. The large congregations of jSTewbern and Wil- 
mington were both desirous of procuring his valuable pastoral 
services, interrupted and hindered as they were; and accord- 
ingly at this time he received from each of those congrega- 
tions an invitation to become its pastor, but he ultimately 
selected the village of AVilliamsborough, to which he had 
been also invited, as ins future residence. The congregation 
there was small, and having never had the benefit of regular 
services, lie thought it better able to withstand the injurious 
effects of interrupted ministrations. 

It pleased God about this time to deprive Bishop Ravens- 
croft of the whole of his worldly substance, by that means 
which had become so general in this country. The same 
benevolent, disposition which prompted him to dedicate his 
life so zealously to the service of his fellow creatures, had in- 
duced him at various times to become the security for others 
in pecuniary transactions, and the issue was his utter ruin. 
The details of this unfortunate business it is not necessary to 
relate. Suffice it to say, that he met, with kind friends, and 
in his own bosom found a source of comfort which made 
him rise superior to his misfortunes, and, like the courser 
that has shaken off his encumbrances, to run his race with 
renovated speed and vigor. 

One earthly tie yet remained to him, besides his connexion 
with and attachment to the Church, and that also it pleased 
God to sever. Soon after his removal to Williamsborough, 
the health of his wife, which had been for some time feeble, 
began rapidly to decline, and in January, 1829, her sickness 



MEMOIR. 



47 



and sufferings terminated in death. A life spent in the dili- 
gent discharge of the various duties belonging to her station, 
was closed by a death full of the hope of immortality, audit 
was a source of great comfort to her husband, that during the 
last stages of her illness, not one cloud of doubt obscured the 
brightness of her heavenly prospect, and that (to use his own 
language) "there was not even a distorted feature in the 
agonies of death, to betray any quailing before the king of 
terrors." The severance of this last earthly bond was to the 
Bishop a severe trial. Besides losing an affectionate friend 
and a faithful counsellor in his wife, the precarious and deli- 
cate state of his own health made him peculiarly sensitive to 
the loss of a gentle and tender companion and nurse. But 
even this severe chastisement was not to him without its 
mitigations. The poverty to which he was reduced in his 
old age, had only affected him as it rendered it probable that 
his early death, to which he already began to look forward, 
would leave Mrs. Ravenscroft in want. The removal of this 
apprehension by the death of his wife, though it might render 
the evening of his days lonely and irksome, at once released 
him from all earthly anxieties; and in speaking of his loss, 
this thought, next to the consolations of religion, seemed to 
have been uppermost. 

The convention of 1829, sensible of the increasing infirmities 
of Bishop Ravenscroft, and of the great necessity of relieving 
him of a portion of his laborious duties, determined to release 
him from all parochial charge. Notwithstanding his de- 
clining health and strength, his devotion to both his diocese 
and parish had continued unremitted. Often during his 
visitations he would spend one day on a sick bed, and the 
succeeding in preaching with his usual force and zeal, or in 
travelling from the place of one appointment to that of 
another; and while at home, he never permitted a Sunday to 
pass without occupying his pulpit. This double labor was 
obviously too much for his reduced strength and health, and 
the convention, notwithstanding the slender means of the 
diocese, increased his salary so as to make it adequate to his 
support independently of any parochial contribution. But 
the relief came too late. The visitation immediately pre- 
ceding this convention, was the last he was ever permitted to 



48 MEMOLE. 

make to the diocese, which owed so much to his zealous and 
faithful labors. After the adjournment of the convention he 
visited the newly formed dioceses of Tennessee and Kentucky, 
and from thence went to Philadelphia to attend the sitting of 
the general convention in that city. This long journey, 
which he was induced to take at the urgent solicitations of 
the Tennessee clergy, and perhaps by the expectation that it 
might benefit his health, lie performed in the public stages 
and steamboats, travelling more than a thousand miles over 
a rough and mountainous country, in the former mode of 
conveyance. "When the general convention had finished its 
session he remained for more than a month in Philadelphia, 
under the care of the most eminent physicians of that city. 
Their skill restored him to *i degree of comfort and health 
which he had lmt known for year.-, and they gave him reason 
to hope that, with proper care, his health might be completely 
re-established. Put the expectation which they entertained 
vain. Though the Bishop, previously to this period, 
was noted fur the recklessness with which he exposed his 
health and life in the labors of his vocation, he seems to have 
been impressed by the opinion of these eminent medical ad- 
visers, with the absolute necessity of more prudence, and 
thenceforward to have yielded to their injunctions; but a 
sudden and violent change of weather exposing him to severe 
cold on an unavoidable journey to Payetteville, (whither he 
was preparing to remove,) brought back all the worst symp- 
toms of his disease in an aggravated form. Having disposed 
<»f his effects in Williamsborough, preparatory to his contem- 
plated removal to Payetteville, he reached Raleigh in Decem- 
ber, where he designed remaining during the session of the 
legislature. His health was now, once more, evidently and 
rapidly declining. He was, however, enabled to write a ser- 
mon for the consecration of Christ Church, in Kaleigh, and 
to perforin that service. After that he daily grew weaker, 
and his former disease, chronic diarrhoea, returning with 
renewed violence, and being conjoined with the double 
qaartan, soon prostrated him. In a letter written on the last 
of January, he says, "I am weakening daily, and now can 
just sit up long enough at a time to scribble a letter occasion- 
ally." "Put," he adds, "as respects the result, I am, thank 



49 



God, free from apprehension. I am ready, I humbly trust, 
through the grace of my divine Saviour, to meet the will of 
God, whether that shall be for life or for death; and I humbly 
thank Christ Jesus, my Loed, who sustains me in patience 
and cheerfulness through the valley and shadow of death." 

For many weeks previous to his dissolution, he was fully 
persuaded that his sickness was unto death, and spoke of his 
decease as certain, and at no great distance; but manifested 
the utmost calmness in the contemplation of it. "Why should 
I desire to live?" said he. "There is nothing to bind me to 
this world. The last earthly tie has been broken. Never- 
theless, I am perfectly resigned to the will of God,' either to 
go or stay. I feel no anxiety about the issue." During 
the whole of his illness, his conduct was such as to satisfv 
every one, that he felt no apprehensions at the thought of 
death. He retained the peculiarities of his character to the 
last; the same ardent love and zeal for the truth, the same 
fearless rebuke and condemnation of error, marked his cha- 
racter on a sick and dying bed, which had so eminently dis- 
tinguished him through life; and he let slip no opportunity 
of bearing testimony to the truth as 'it is in Jesus, and as it 
is held and taught by the Church of which he was a Bishop. 
"On one occasion," writes the Rev. Mr. Freeman, (who at- 
tended him in his last moments,) "several persons being pre- 
sent, I turned to the book of Proverbs, and read to those who 
were sitting by me, the following passage, (chap. 20, v. 21,) 
"An inheritance may be gotten hastily at the beginning, but 
the end thereof shall not be blessed," and proceeded to ob- 
serve, how little encouragement was afforded by this passage 
for a man to make haste to be rich, &e. When I ceased 
speaking, the Bishop, who I thought was not attending to 
what passed, exclaimed, 'There is another lesson to be learned 
from it. It may be applied to those who have hastily ob- 
tained a religious inheritance — who place their dependence 
on those sudden and evanescent fervors which they have ex- 
perienced in some moment of excitement.' With respect to 
his own prospects, he appeared to entertain no apprehen- 
sions. I asked him, a few days before his decease, if he had 
never during his illness been troubled with doubts and mis- 
givings? 'Never,' said he. 'So free have I been from any 
[Vol. l,— "4. ] 



%0 



MEMOIR. 



suggestions of the enemy, that I have never doubted for a 
moment, except that the thought has sometimes come over 
me that my tranquility is possibly an evidence that Satan 
thinks himself sure of me, and therefore lets me alone.' On 
my answering, that as he had been laboring to pull down 
Satan's kingdom — had been constantly engaged in fighting, 
not in his ranks, but in opposition to him, it was not reason- 
able to suppose that he had any claims upon him. 'True,' 
said he, 'but then I have had such a body of sin to struggle 
against, and seem now to have been so much engaged in 
preaching myself rather than God, that I feel humbled to 
the dust. . Mv onlv ground of consolation is, that as Chkist 
suffered in weakness for our redemption, much more may 
we hope to be saved by the power of his resurrection.' 
Speaking of his enfeebled state, and what he called the 
wandering of his thoughts, he remarked on the folly of de- 
laying repentance to a sick bed, and expressed, as he had 
often done before, his desire to warn every one of the hope- 
lessness of being able to settle on a dving bed so vast a con- 
cern as that of making one's peace with God. 'If I had my 
work now all to do, what would become of me? If I had 
put off this matter to this time, it must have been entirely 
neglected.' 

"He received the Holy Communion once while on his sick 
bed, and had appointed to receive it again, a few days be- 
fore his death. But when the time came, he was so much 
exhausted by the preparations which he had made, and which 
he would not omit, in order that he might come, as he ex- 
pressed himself, 'literalh T clean to the heavenly feast,' that he 
was obliged to forego the opportunity. 'I am not in a con- 
dition,' said he, 'to partake discerningly, and I have no super- 
stitious notions respecting the Eucharist — I do not regard it 
as a viaticum, necessary to the safety of the departing soul. 
I believe that in my case the will will be accepted for 1 the 
deed; and tell my brethren (who were assembled in the next 
room to partake with him) that though I am denied the 
privilege of shouting the praises of redeeming love once 
more with them, around the table of our common Lokd, yet I 
will commune with them in spirit.' 

"The evening before his death, I had left him for a few 



MEMOIR. 51 

moments. Soon after, receiving intelligence that he was 
dying, I hastened to him, and found him nearly speechless, 
and sinking to all appearance very fast. I asked him if I 
should pray. 'I cannot follow you,' was his reply, uttered 
with great difficulty. I then kneeled down by him, and 
prayed silently. After some moments, he seemed to revive, 
and motioned to us to retire from his bed-side, and leave 
him undisturbed. I sat and watched him from that time till 
he expired, which he did about one o'clock the following- 
morning, (March 5th, 1830,) without having spoken for five 
or six hours. He appeared, however, to be in the entire 
possession of his mind to the last, and expired without a 
struggle." 

The remains of Bishop Ravenscroft were deposited within 
a small vault, which had been prepared under his directions 
some weeks before his death, beneath the chancel of Christ 
Church, in the city of Raleigh. The following instructions 
respecting his burial, were found in his will, and punctually 
performed. "My will and desire is, that the coffin to contain 
niy mortal remains be of plain pine wood, stained black, and 
without ornament of any kind — that my body be carried to 
the grave by my old horse Pleasant, led by my old servant 
Johnson — that the service for the burial of the dead, as set 
forth in the Book of Common Prayer, and none other, be 
used at my interment, with the 5th, 7th, 9th, 10th, and 31th 
verses of the 16th Psalm, to be used instead of the hymn 
commonly sung; and that the Rev. George W. Freeman, 
Rector of Christ Church, Raleigh, do perforin the said funeral 
rites." 

The following further extract from the Bishop's will ex- 
hibits an amiable trait of his character. "I i>-ive to A. 
M'liarg Hepburn and E. M. Hepburn, whom I have brought 
up as my children, my servant Johnson, and my favorite old 
horse Pleasant, believing that they will be kind to Johnson 
for my sake, keeping him from idleness and vice, but suiting 
his labor to his infirm condition; and that they will not suffer 
Pleasant to be exposed to any hardship or want in his old 
age, but will allow Johnson to attend to him, as he has been 
accustomed to do." 



52 MEMOIB. 

His entire collection of books and pamphlets, which were 
valuable, he bequeathed to the diocese of North Carolina, 
"to form the commencement of a library for the use and 
benefit of the clergy and laity of the Protestant Episcopal 
Church in North Carolina." 

To the "Episcopal Bible, Prayer Book, Tract, and Mission- 
ary Society," of the diocese, in the formation of which he 
had taken a very warm interest, he left the copy-right of 
such publications of his works as his friends might think it 
expedient to make, which are now collected in the volumes 
to which this Memoir is prefixed. 

To portray the character of Bishop Ravenscroft in its true 
colors, is a task of no ordinaiy difficulty. Though candid, 
almost to a fault, he yet shrunk from speaking of himself, 
except in terms which his deep conviction of sin, and his 
great abhorrence of self, rendered almost extravagant, and 
which were calculated to convey, and have conveyed, an im- 
pression injurious to himself in a high degree. Glowing with 
the most devoted gratitude to God for having rescued him 
"from utter ruin of both soul and body in hell," he thought 
no language of self abasement too forcible to express his own 
great unworthiness, and to magnify the goodness of God's 
free grace. Such feelings, and the open avowal of them, it 
is not our purpose to censure; but only to remark, that the 
same self denouncing language which misled strangers, 
though it did not deceive those who knew him better, was 
still calculated to throw a veil over his inward thoughts and 
feelings which it was difficult to penetrate; and few but 
those who were admitted to his closet, could see in their full 
relief, the virtues of his character. How rarely is the veil 
of humility so impervious! Notwithstanding these difficulties, 
that mysterious act of Providence which has removed Bishop 
Ravenscroft from our sight, before a censorious and mis- 
judging world had time to know and appreciate him, renders 
an elfort to make his character better known and understood, 
an act of justice to his memory; and the writer undertakes 
the task with the more confidence, as he has, beside his own 
personal knowledge, the aid and counsel of those who, more 
than any others, knew him long and intimately. 



MEMOIK. 53 

In person, Bishop Eavenscroft was large and commanding, 
with a countenance, in its general aspect, perhaps austere, 
bat susceptible of the most benevolent expression. His man- 
ner corresponded with his person, especially when exercising 
his ministerial functions; being remarkably dignified, and so 
solemn and impressive, as to inspire all who witnessed it 
with reverence. It was impossible not to partake of the 
consciousness which he ever seemed to feel when at the altar, 
of being in the presence of the Great Jehovah. In his 
general intercourse with society he was courteous, though 
when excited in debate, his loud tone of voice and warmth 
of manner sometimes made him seem dictatorial, and were 
the pregnant sources of much calumny from his enemies. 
The infirmity of temper, which in his unfinished memoir of 
himself he bewails as his chief besetting sin, (but which, it 
must be remembered, was entirely distinct from that ani- 
mation and perhaps violence in argument, which, though 
subjecting him to reproach so often, was purely the result of 
a naturally ardent temperament, and was unaccompanied by 
any unchristian feelings,) would occasionally, though rarely, 
betray him into a momentary forgetfulness of himself. This, 
however, was witnessed by few; for aware of his infirmity he 
struggled and prayed against it, and sought the counsel and 
prayers of his friends, patiently receiving their rebukes. "I 
heartily thank you," he writes to one of his presbyters, "for 
the warning wish with which you notice the infirmity of my 
ardent temper, and shall always feel obliged by every hint 
which may keep me on the watch against its injurious in- 
fluence, and by every prayer which may prevail for grace, to 
enable me to direct it aright. Of whatever quality my trea- 
sure may be, I know that I have it in an earthen vessel, 
frailer than common in those preservatives which are fur- 
nished by nature, which have often failed me; and therefore 
the more dependent on the promise, 'as thy days so shall thy 
strength be."' 

This concession being made respecting the character of 
Bishop Eavenscroft, it may be truly said that in all other re- 
spects lie was a perfect man, and upright in his ways. 

As a man he was liberal in his views; independent in his 
principles; just, almost to punctiliousness; honest in his in- 



54 MEMOIR. 

tentions; warm and kind in his feelings; bold and fearless in 
the cause of truth, and remarkably regardless of self in all 
he said or did. 

His moral worth, even before he became a Christian, was 
such, with the exceptions that he himself has noticed, that 
an inmate of his family at the time of his conversion, re- 
marks, that except in abandoning the habits alluded to, and 
in becoming a praying Christian, no outward change was 
necessary to constitute him the eminent and consistent pro- 
fessor which he became. 

As a citizen, he was warmly attached to our free institu- 
tions, and was often heard to rejoice that the Church of which 
he was an overseer, was untrammelled by any alliance with 
the civil power. As a neighbor, he was kind and charitable. 
Being considerably skilled in medicine, he was, while resi- 
dent in Virginia, the chief physician in his neighborhood, 
and performed the laborious duties attached to this beneficent 
species of charity, with cheerfulness and alacrity, promptly 
and uniformly attending to every call. His hand too, was 
ever open to follow the leadings of his generous heart, and 
ministered to the necessities of others with a liberality — we 
might almost say prodigality — that left him at the last rich 
only in the affections of his friends and in the approbation of 
his own conscience. Although his charity was of that expan- 
sive kind which embraces within its objects every creature of 
God, yet his friendships (in the limited sense in which the 
term is understood,) were few, and founded on a moral and 
religious estimation of character. He seemed to consider his 
friends as parts of himself. Though he loved them, he did 
not express his affection with honeyed words, or by a wilful 
blindness to their faults. He knew not how to flatter, and if 
he had known, he would have met a martyr's fate sooner 
than have uttered one word more than truth and honesty 
permitted. Of his "revilers and persecutors," he said but 
little, but forgot not to pray for them; while to his friends he 
was willing to appear at times unsparing, that he might cor- 
rect in them those weaknesses and sins of which a flattering 
world might not have told them. His rebukes, though 
affectionate in manner, were severe, though seldom unde- 
served, and those who were dearest to him were most likely 
to smart under his reproofs. 



MEMOIR. 55 

As respects his more remarkable benefactions, this is the 
testimony borne by one of the objects of his parental love — 
"In his conduct towards myself and brothers (whom he 
adopted in infancy and reared to manhood,) he always sup- 
ported the character of a father, in its truest sense. I was, 
myself, an infant when thrown upon his bounty, alike uncon- 
scious of my loss, and unconscious of my gain; but, though I 
never knew father or mother, I never knew their want or felt 
their loss, until I lost those who adopted me for their son." 
He was, thus, truly and practically, a father to the fatherless. 

In the character of a master, Bishop Ravenscroft mingled 
the care and affection of a parent, with that authority which 
Providence had placed in his hands, as a means for the good 
of those who served him. His domestics he regarded as a 
part of his family, and he was frequent and careful in ex- 
pounding to them the way of life, and regular in calling 
them around his domestic altar. 

Whether or not the trials of temper to which he makes 
such frequent reference, in speaking of his early life, had any 
connexion with the relation in which he stood to his slaves, 
is not known, but it is certain that in the latter years of his 
life, if he erred at all in his treatment of them, it was de- 
cidedly on the side of indulgence. 

As a husband Bishop Ravenscroft was the guide and in- 
structer, the feeling friend, and the affectionate keeper, of 
those to whom he was successively bound in the strongest of 
earthly ties. 

But all the relations of which we have spoken are now dis- 
solved for ever. As a neighbor, a benefactor, a master, and 
a husband, he will be known no more. But in the enduring 
character of a follower of Christ he continues unaltered and 
unharmed by death. It remains for us to contemplate him 
in this character while militant on earth. 

When the Spirit of God called him like another Saul from 
the highway of sin, he fell before the power of truth; he 
acknowledged himself the chief of sinners; he renounced all 
his former dependencies, and gave himself unreservedly to 
that God whom he had opposed. From that day to the one 
which shone upon his burial, he lived to the glory of God 
and the good of others. In him there was no superficial 



56 MEMOIR. 

change: the grace of God had done its perfect work, and he~ 
indeed, became a "new creature." His religion had nothing 
in it austere and repulsive, but was of that cheerful and happy 
kind which insensibly wins over the thoughtless and dis- 
arms the gainsayer. But when in the retirement of his study T 
he either dwelt upon his own experience in divine things, 
or listened to the story of some contrite heart, there was a 
solemnity in his manner which bespoke a heart deeply im- 
bued with the spirit of holiness, and keenly alive to the re- 
sponsibilities of his sacred calling. In the still more secret 
recesses of his closet or chamber there was exhibited that 
earnestness of devotion which added such a lustre to his 
Christian character. It is truly said by a reverend friend 
who served with him as a fellow presbyter for years — u He 
was one of -the most devotional men, in private, that I have 
ever known. After preaching two or three times in a day y . 
and lecturing ard praying with a family at night, yet when 
he retired to his chamber, he would prostrate himself on his 
knees for a long time, with agonies and internal struo;s;lino;8- 
almost irrepressible, as though he was wrestling with hi&GoD 
for the very life of his soul." These groanings and wrest- 
lings of his heart in prayer have attracted the notice of many, 
and it is believed were the invariable characteristics of his 
private devotions. 

The most prominent feature of Bishop B,avenscroft T s Chris- 
tian character was love towards Goo, resulting from a feeling 
sense of the infinite obligations under which the goodness of 
God had laid him. The only subject that ever affected him 
to tears, was the mercy of God in having rescued him from 
the grasp of Satan. In speaking of this great deliverance, 
which he seemed to realize in all its force, his heart, appeared 
ready to burst with the fullness of his grateful emotions. It 
was this ardent love to God, which animated his zeal, which 
quickened his diligence; which urged him on, even to the 
sacrifice of life, in the service of his master; which made him 
bow, without a murmur, to the various afflictive dispensa- 
tions of which he was the object; and which made him, at 
the last, "lie down in the dust" with the most perfect tran- 
quility. This principle of action in Bishop Ravenscroft ac- 
counts for much that has been misconstrued in his conduct. 



MEMOIE. 57 

Believing all that he preached to be essential to the glory of 
God, it stimulated him to the utmost earnestness and de- 
cision; and thinking especially that the sin of schism was 
alike destructive to the eternal interests of man, and inju- 
rious to the majesty of God, like another Curtius he boldly 
threw himself into the gulf reckless of what might befall him- 
self, so that he accomplished the salvation of souls and se- 
cured the integrity of God's law. In the practice of that 
charity which he revered as one of the plainest injunctions of 
Scripture, he distinguished between persons and opinions, 
and while bold in denouncing error, was ever ready to do 
justice to motives. He esteemed it the highest charity to' 
warn such as he conceived to be in error of their mistake, 
and earnestly and loudly to call upon them to awake from a 
delusion which he thought might be fatal. It matters not, 
in the estimation of the qualities of his heart, whether his 
opinions were right or wrong; he thought them right, and 
was, therefore, justified, and even constrained, by his duty as 
a minister, to preach them. "My dear brother," he writes 
to the presbyter already mentioned as having withdrawn 
from the Church, and who had been urging the very charge 
we have been combating — "is the declaration of the truth, 
the pressing our principles, upon the authority of Scripture 
and reason, a hostile and militant attitude? Is the denun- 
ciation of error publicly made, an arrogant assumption of 
superiority over others? Then were St. Paul and the other 
apostles the most contentious, arrogant, and contemptuous- 
men in the world — the most hostile to heavenly affections, 
that ever lived. What harsh censures have I uttered against 
any denomination of Christians? I beseech you charge me 
not with any such fault, laying at my door things which I 
know not of." And again he says, "I respect principle in 
every man, no matter how much it may conflict with my 
own; nor would I take from any man, or set of men, the 
right, which I hold sacred, of judging and acting for my- 
self." It may be well for those who have attached the charge 
■of bigotry to the memory of Bishop Kavenscroft, to inquire 
whether that so called liberality which denounces as bigotry 
the zealous maintenance of any opinions, be not in itself one 
of the worst kinds of bigotry? No one who ever heard the 



58 MEMOIR. 

Bishop preach, ever doubted that he was sincere; and if he 
believed that what he preached was an essential part of the 
gospel, is it not a species of bigotry to charge this fidelity 
upon him as a crime? And would he not have been justly 
deemed a faithless physician of souls if he had kept from 
the knowledge of his patient, the very existence of a malady 
which he thought might be fatal unless removed? As has 
been already said, humility was a distinguishing trait in the 
Cluistian character of Bishop Ravenscroft — a humility grow- 
ing out of a thorough knowledge and distrust of himself. 
Besides that meekness under rebuke which we have men- 
tioned, it will scarcely be believed, that even in the com- 
position of his most elaborate works, his powerful mind did 
not scorn the suggestions of his youngest and humblest 
friends, but would patiently receive, and sometimes adopt 
them, yielding his own views with entire readiness when 
convinced that they were erroneous. On the other hand, 
the spirit of complaisance never tempted him for a moment 
to withhold what he believed to be the truth, nor to shrink 
from the detection and exposure of error. 

The humility of his character was most eminently dis- 
played in that remarkable loathing of himself to which we 
have so often referred, and which nothing but an unshaken 
confidence in the infinite value of Christ's sacrifice, could 
have rendered tolerable to him. But that grace which re- 
vealed to him with such awful distinctness, the depravity of 
his early life, sustained him under the contemplation of it, 
and enabled him to say on his death-bed, "Though the past 
is not without its reproaches, the future is without its fears." 

As a minister of the cross, Bishop Ravenscroft was faith- 
ful, diligent, and zealous. He loved to proclaim the goodness 
of God and the glad tidings of the gospel; and his appeals to 
the hearts and the understanding of his audiences were fer- 
vid and animated. He preached the gospel in its utmost 
purity, and though he did not withhold, on proper occasions, 
the declaration and defence of his peculiar opinions, the 
themes upon which he most delighted to dwell were, the 
goodness of Gon, the depravity of man, the provision made 
for his restoration by the blood of Christ, and the freeness 
and fullness of that mercy which offers the inestimable bene- 
fits of his death to the whole world. 



MEMOIR. 59 

His success as a preacher no doubt arose in part from the 
familiarity which his early experience had given him with 
all the recesses of the unconverted heart, and from the search- 
ing fidelity with which he portrayed its most secret workings. 
Not like the spy who has discovered the outward defences of 
the enemy's camp, but like one who had been born and bred 
within its precincts, he knew every assailable point, every 
defenceless outpost; and bearing down upon it with impetu- 
ous force, it was impossible to withstand his onset. 

His solemn and impressive manner, his finely modulated 
voice, his commanding figure, and evident earnestness in the 
sacred cause in which he was engaged, never failed to com- 
mand the attention and to move the hearts of his auditory, 
while many who had been misled by the misrepresentations 
of his enemies, were constrained to admit his zeal and sin- 
gleness of purpose. 

It may be here observed, that those who most reviled him 
knew him the least, or were most interested in interrupting 
the success of his brilliant career; and many have been the 
instances, where seemingly inveterate prejudices have yielded 
to a personal knowledge, and have been converted into the 
most ardent admiration and attachment. His defects were 
superficial, and were discovered at the first glance, and easily 
made instruments in the hands of his enemies to injure him: 
but his virtues were sterling, and shed their influence over 
his whole life and character, and became more and more pro- 
minent as the inspection became more close. 

As a scholar and theologian, Bishop Ravenscroft cannot, 
perhaps, be deemed profoundly learned. He had received 
an excellent classical education, and had not failed to acquire 
an extensive acquaintance with general literature; but the 
habits and employments of his life before he entered the 
ministry had not permitted any very enlarged researches in 
science, or any very great acquisition of learning. When his 
attention was turned to religious reading, he seems to have 
confined himself to such authors (and especially the early fa- 
thers of the Church) as threw most light upon the Scriptures, 
and the constitution of the primitive Church; and his own 
vigorous mind readily supplied the want of those lesser aids, 
which students of more leisure and longer standing have time 



bU MEMOIR. 

to use. With the Scriptures themselves he was thoroughly 
conversant; and with all such collateral subjects as his station 
in the Church required him to become minutely acquainted 
with: but with such subjects as were more speculative than 
practical, he concerned himself but little. His very reten- 
tive memory hoarded up with great accuracy such acquisi- 
tions as his limited time allowed him to make, and his rapid 
and vigorous conceptions enabled him to reach, with far less 
than ordinary study, the conclusions of truth. These advan- 
tages made him appear learned, and, perhaps, gave him all 
the benefits ordinarily derived from learning; for his argu- 
ments were all of the most masterly kind, and rarely failed 
to extort admiration, if not conviction. His style was forci- 
ble and impressive, occasionally abounding with the most 
glowing imagery, sometimes a little involved, and more rare- 
ly indicated a slight degree of negligence. His reasoning in 
the pulpit was clear and judicious, while his appeals to the 
passions were animated and powerful. 

As a Jjishop, he was untiring in his devotion to the duties 
of his station. More anxious for the promotion of true piety 
and sound principles, than for the vain extension of the Church 
over an unfruitful domain, he directed his first attention, 
when called to preside over the diocese of North Carolina, 
to the condition of its already established congregations. 
Many of these, as we have already seen, had been imperfect- 
ly instructed in divine things, and needed the fostering and 
enlightened care of his diligent hand. The establishment 
and confirmation of these in true and fruitful piety, and in 
divine knowledge, is the true criterion of the success of his 
Episcopal labors; while the addition to the Church of several 
well-informed and zealous congregations, shows, that although 
mainly attentive to the securing of the ground already gained, 
he was not inattentive to its extension. The substructure of 
the Church in his diocese, in some respects weak and defec- 
tive when placed under his care, he had repaired and tho- 
roughly reformed: the superstructure was just beginning to 
rise when his labors, his self-sacrificing labors, were termi- 
nated by death. 

In his intercourse with his clergy, Bishop Ravenscroft was 
kind and affectionate. He regarded them as sons in God, and 



MEMOIK. 61 

they looked up to him with reverence and child-like affec- 
tion. Although vested with the highest authority of the 
Church, that authority was never felt except by offenders. In 
his presence all distinctions vanished, except that which his 
dignified person, his commanding talents, and his superior 
piety, claimed for him. 

Such was Bishop Ravenscroft in life, and even more than 
such did he prove himself in the hours of sickness and death. 
With humble confession of many offences, both to God and 
man, he bore his long and wearisome illness with meekness, 
patience, and even cheerfulness; and met its solemn termi- 
nation with that equanimity which the approving grace of 
God alone can bestow. 

The following communication from a reverend gentleman 
who was an intimate friend of Bishop Ravenscroft, came to 
hand too late to be embodied in the preceding memoir. As 
it contains some interesting particulars, the opportunity is 
embraced of inserting it in this place. 

Dear Sir: 

You ask me to give you some of my reminiscences of 
our late beloved Diocesan, and I sincerely thank you, in re- 
turn, for the opportunity thus afforded me of speaking on a 
subject of which I never can grow weary. And yet I know 
not where to begin, or how to do justice to a single trait of 
his marked character, lie was indeed a man of peculiar 
mould. Lavishly endowed by nature, both as to mind and 
body, he needed only (what he afterward experienced) the 
transforming power of grace, to make his character as lovely 
as it was striking. But I will not dwell on his general cha- 
racter, as that is well known to the world. Let me rather 
call your attention to a few interesting particulars, which, 
though perhaps unworthy the notice of a more grave biogra- 
pher, may, notwithstanding, lend their aid in elucidating a 
character so deservedly dear to us both. 

It was my good fortune to be intimately acquainted with 
Bishop Ravenscroft, and (I think I may say it without being 
accused of vanity) to enjoy his confidential friendship. Cir- 
cumstances threw me more frequently in his company than 



MEMOIR. 

either of his other clergy, and thus gave me an opportunity, 
enjoyed by few, of seeing him as he wa,s in his parlor, in his 
study, and in all those retired relations of life, which, though 
not often taken into the estimate of character, serve, never- 
theless, to show a man in his proper and distinguishing co- 
lors. I miirht further sav. that I knew him well in the unre- 
served moments of private intercourse. But never lived there 
a man in whom there was less reserve, and who was more 
perfectly the same in public and in private. "I have no con- 
cealments," would he frequently say, "nor do I wish to know 
the secrfts of others." And never did man act more up to 
his declarations. With a wasteful honest} 7 (if 1 may so speak) 
he dealt out the truth to all, regardless of the fear or favor of 
any. He "kept back" nothing that he thought would tend 
to the right understanding of the truth. He was "deter- 
mined" to use his own words, "to call things by their right 
names." In one word, he was far too honest for the age in 
which he lived. Had his lot been cast in the iron times of 
the reformation, posterity would have rejoiced in his name, 
and have ranked him with the Cranmers and Ridleys of 
those days. But being raised up, as he was, in the midst of 
an innovating generation, he felt called on, by every consid- 
eration of duty, to lift his voice against that strong tide of 
modern inventions and misnamed charitv, which seemed 
about to drift the Church from the safe moorings of the re- 
formation, and toss it without helm or pilot upon a sea of 
uncertainty and error. I have often looked with wonder at 
the man, whilst he has been declaiming with the zeal of an 
apostle against modern pretences of charity, and have thought 
that if all heralds of the cross were filled with a like zeal for 
the truth, and reverence for jjrimitive practice, what another 
aspect the Church of Ciikist would wear! And it has oc- 
curred to me at those times, that his fearless, self-sacrificing 
character could be summed up in no better language than 
that emphatic declaration of our Saviour, "Every plant which 
my heavenly Father hath not planted shall be rooted up." 
lie might have taken it for his motto; for it was certainly 
the ruling principle of all he said and did. His honesty, I 
believe, no man doubted: t\\e policy of his unreserved decla- 
rations was, however, questioned by many, who regarded, 



MEMOIK. 63 

more than he did, established forms of speech, and the little 
courtesies of society which are too often made to conflict 
with that unbending honesty and sincerity which should ever 
characterize the Christian. 

It fell to my lot to be the bearer of the letter from our 
Standing Committee, announcing his unanimous election as 
our first Bishop. And never shall I forget the solemn nature 
of that interview. I found him happily seated at his fireside., 
with the friend of his bosom beside him, and his Bible open 
before him. After the usual salutation and inquiries, the 
documents containing the certificate of his election, &c 7 
were placed in his hands, and as my curiosity was strongly 
excited to witness the effect produced on him by this unex- 
pected and solemn call, I narrowly watched the workings of 
his countenance; and there I read a lesson on the awful re- 
sponsibility, of the sacred calling, never to be obliterated. 
For some moments he seemed to read and read again, as if 
loath to believe the startling proposition. At length a deep 
groan relieved the awful heavings of his breast. At this 
sound his wife looked up from her work, and cast an anxious 
look upon us both, as if to inquire the cause of such emotion. 
Not a word, however, was spoken. An impressive silence 
reigned throughout the chamber, broken only by hard and 
long drawn breathings, which seemed to say audibly, "Lord 
I am not worthy! What am I, Loed God, and what is 
my house, that thou hast brought me hitherto?" At length, 
after pacing the chamber for a few moments, as if struggling 
to keep down his emotions, he paused before me, and said 
in his peculiarly emphatic manner, "Brother, it must be so. 
The hand of God is in this thing; I see it; and with his help 
I will go where he calls me." Then putting the papers into 
the hands of her who was literally his "help-meet,'' he en- 
deavored to return to his wonted strain of cheerful and edi- 
fying conversation. But, although he failed in no iota of 
attention to his guest, yet there was an evident weight upon 
him during the remainder of my visit, which made me 
wonder how "the office of a Bishop" could ever be the aim 
of worldly ambition. There was something ever to be re- 
membered in the expression of his countenance at that time. 
It seemed to indicate the humility of David in the language 



6± 



MEMOIR. 



just quoted, without die apparent reluctance of Moses when 
called into the dangerous service of his Master. All the 
trials, and labors, and responsibilities of his apostolic office, 
appeared to array themselves at once before him, as if to 
intimidate him, and make him doubt the divine call. But 
like the great apostle of the Gentiles, (whom of all preachers 
he most resembled,) he took refuge in the gracious promise 
of our Lord — "My grace shall be sufficient for thee." 

When I next saw him, it was in Philadelphia, standing 
before the altar of St. Paul's, and receiving from the vener- 
able and truly excellent Bishop White his commission to 
rule as well as minister in the Church of Christ. And 
never, while memory retains her seat, shall I forget the 
startling effect of his responses upon the multitude that looked 
on. It was as though an earthquake was shaking the deep 
foundations of those venerable walls. A breathless silence 
reigned during the whole of the sacred ceremony; and no 
one, it is believed left the church that day without feeling as 
if he could pledge himself for the sincerity and zeal of him 
who was then invested with the apostolic office. 

And yet that this man should have had his enemies, yea, 
bitter enemies and revilers! But it need not be wondered 
at, for he was the unsparing champion of truth — and, "ye 
hate me," says our Saviour to his revilers, "because I tell 
you the truth." That Bishop Ravenscroft had his faults, 
must be freely admitted by his greatest admirers. x\n un- 
fortunate harshness of manner would sometimes repel the 
timid from approaching him; and an apparent impatience 
under contradiction, would deter free conversation in those 
who knew him imperfectly. But these were blemishes of 
the outward man only, and reached not the "spirit of the 
mind." Of these weaknesses, however, he was not uncon- 
scious; and oftentimes has he lamented over them before his 
friends, and prayed against them in secret. But a day or 
two before his death, the writer of this was conversing with 
him on the solemn subject of the future, when he said: "My 
hopes on that score are without an intervening cloud. I 
know in whom I have believed, and I fear not to trust my- 
self in his hands. But, bear me witness, I look for salvation 
only as a pardoned sinner. I have much to be forgiven of 



MEMOIR. 65 

God, and I have many pardons also to ask of my fellow men, 
for my harshness of manner towards them. But," said he, 
lifting his eyes to heaven, and striking upon his breast, 
"there was no harshness here." 

I cannot conclude these brief notices of my beloved dio- 
cesan without adverting to what I conceive was one of his 
most distinguish in % and lovelv characteristics — I mean his 
devotion in private. On more than one occasion I have been 
unavoidably placed as an ear-witness of his moments of re- 
tired devotion — a devotion to which I am sure that he thought 
there were no witnesses but himself and his God. And it 
was at such times that I wished a censorious world could 
have stood in my place. I distinctly remember the first 
time that I was so situated. Such were the strong wrest- 
lings and deep groan ings of that man of God in prayer, that 
my first impulse was to fly to his assistance, fearing lest 
some sudden and violent pain had seized upon him; but a 
moment's reflection convinced me that it was not bodily 
anguish that wrung these complainings from him, but an 
agony of spirit, which seemed driven for relief to these plain- 
tive moanings. Oh, how hard would he seem to wrestle 
with his God! Every groan that burst from his laboring soul 
seemed to say, U I will not let thee go, except thou bless me." 
Nor was his a short-lived, or transitory devotion. Three 
times a day, like the prophet of old, did he kneel upon his 
knees; and, unless pressed by other duties, he continued in 
prayer for the space of half an hour. His usual custom was 
to go from the reading of God's word to the seeking of his 
face in prayer. Indeed I never have known a more diligent 
reader of the Bible. It was ever open on his desk; and in 
the composition of his sermons, he seldom sought assistance 
beyond its pages. Enter his study when you would, there 
was his Bible on one side of him, and his Concordance on 
the other. And this reminds me of the wide-spread, but 
mistaken opinion of thousands as to his views on the subject 
of Commentaries on the Bible. So far was Bishop Ravens- 
croft from desiring to disseminate with the Scriptures the 
interpretations of any man, or set of men, that I can truly 
say I never have known any one to hold commentaries in 
such light esteem. More than once have I heard the young 
[Vol. l,— *5.] 



&> SfEHOIR. 

and inexperienced Christian ask him: "What commentator 
shall I consult in reading my Bible?" And his reply has in- 
variably been, "No one. Read it on your knees, and the 
Spirit of truth will make all necessary things plain unto you." 
Xay, I have heard him go further, and say, that "seldom, if 
ever, had he been helped out of a difficulty by consulting 
even the most esteemed commentators." He delighted to- 
drink from the pure fountain of God's- word; and his sermons- 
and private discourses showed plainly that he was neither 
unlearned nor unskilful in handling its sacred truths. In his- 
views of the Christian system,, he seemed to stand on an 
eminence, with the whole Gospel spread out before him, in 
all its length and breadth. As a practical expounder of 
Scripture, I have never known his equal. He left to others- 
the applause of critical acumen and deep research, and 
sought rather to bring every passage of God's word to bear 
upon the conscience of the sinner. xVnd in these practical 
applications of Scripture he was peculiarly solemn and inter- 
esting. When in health, I have known him, after preaching: 
twice or thrice in the day, lecture at family prayers for thirty 
or forty minutes, upon perhaps the first chapter that met his 
eye on opening the Bible. And on these occasions,, it has 
often been thought by his friends that in point of force of 
maimer, and richness of thought, he even exceeded his more 
deliberate pulpit exercises. 

But I must here put an end to these hasty and disjointed 
sketches. Not that I have nothing more to say of that great 
and good man, or that I am weary of my subject. But that 
I fear I have already exceeded the limits which you have 
fixed for my reply. 

One further remark, and I have done. It is reported of 
Bishop Home, that such was his admiration of the character 
of good old Bishop Andrews, that he prayed that he might 
hereafter be permitted to sit at the feet of that righteous man 
in glory. For my own part, I have often prayed that I 
might die as Bishop Ravenscroft died; and now, most heartily 
do I supplicate our Father in heaven, to permit me to occupy,, 
in the Church triumphant, what I have ever esteemed one of 
the greatest privileges of my past life — a seat at the feet of 
Bishop Ravenscroft. 

Yours r in Christ, ever and. truly 









SERMONS. 



A FAREWELL DISCOURSE, 

DELIVERED TO THE 

MEMBERS OF THE PROTESTANT EPISCOPAL CHURCH 

IN THE 
PARISH OF ST. JAMES, MECKLENBURG COUNTY, VIRGINIA. 

1 Corinthians, xv. 58. 

"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, immovable, always abound- 
ing in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not 
in vain in the Lord." 

Man}^ considerations, my brethren and friends, unite in 
condemning that neglect of revelation, and indifference to 
the awful sanctions and encouraging hopes of the gospel, 
which is so prominent a feature in the character of the pre- 
sent day; but none more directly- than that which forms the 
subject matter of this chapter. 

That another state of being awaits us, in which we shall 
live for ever, no more capable of change or decay, is a doe- 
trine, at one and the same time grateful and. encouraging to 
our hopes, and awful and overwhelming to our fears. Be- 
cause the mind at once passes forward to the purpose which 
such an appointment may be made to answer — to the bearing 
it will have on our individual condition, and to those appre- 
hensions which flow from our natural knowledge of God, and 
our actual acquaintance with our own nature. 

But whatever may be considered the influence of this im- 
pression of a future state, on those who either have not, or 
regard not, the word of revelation; it presents to the Christian 
a subject of the most sublime and encouraging contemplation 
— of the most earnest and devoted self-dedication. Kealizin£ 
not only eternal life for himself, but the possible re-union of 
all that was dear to him in this life — no more liable to change 
or separation; the holy hope re-acts upon the duties of his 
station, gives to them a character of eternity, and strengthens 
him to that firm and unshaken discharge of them, which 
shall not be disappointed of its reward. 



70 A FAREWELL DISCOURSE. 

"What, then, my brethren, must it be to the Christian min- 
ister, who knows that he must answer with his own soul, for 
his faithfulness towards the souls of others, when he comes 
to realize the awful meeting of the risen dead, and the judg- 
ment that awaits him? Alas! who can paint the anxious fear 
and holy hope with which the contemplation is mixed up? 
especially, when the connexion between a pastor and his 
flock is about to determine — when he looks back on the 
course of his labors among them — and calls to mind how 
much is left undone, how much might have been better done 
— and that ere long they will meet him at the bar of God, 
and be his crown, or his condemnation! Oh, it is a feeling 
which no language can express, under which no human for- 
titude could bear up, unless strengthened by that grace of 
God, which is made perfect in weakness, and from which all 
our sufficiency is derived. Thanks be to God for this his 
help and mercy! 

Under the influence of this feeling I meet you this morn- 
ing, my brethren, to give you my last exhortation, my last 
warning as your immediate pastor — once more to eat of that 
bread and drink of that cup, by which, when duly partaken 
of, we are made one body with our blessed Lord — humbly 
trusting, that, however imperfectly, I have not failed to de- 
clare unto you that truth by which we are saved; to counsel 
you to stand fast in those doctrines, which the holy apostolic 
Church of which you are members hath set forth, as "the 
faith once committed to the saints" — and to continue in the 
use of that "form of sound words" which she hath provided 
for the public worship of God — that "with the spirit and with 
the understanding — with one heart and one mouth ; ' ye may 
glorify his holy name, and with "one hope of your calling" 
look joyfully forward to that great day when "this mortal 
shall put on immortality," and the redeemed of the Lord, 
with crowns of glory on their heads, and harps of triumph in 
their hands, shall raise the enraptured song, of glory, honor, 
and salvation, to him that sitteth on the throne and to the 
Lamb for ever. 

"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmo- 
vable, always abounding in the work of the Lord — forasmuch 
as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord." 



A FAREWELL DISCOURSE, 71 

As the text naturally divides itself into three heads, I shall 
follow them in their order, and consider, 

First, the duty of steadfastness or establishment in religion, 
with an application of it to some few points of doctrine: — 
"Be ye steadfast, immovable." 

Secondly, I shall lay before you the necessity and advan- 
tage of diligence and engagement in all your Christian duties: 
■ — "Always abounding in the work of the Lord." 

Thirdly, I shall conclude with a view of the reward which 
awaits the faithful: — "Forasmuch as ye know that your labor 
is not in vain in the Lord." 

I. First, I am to consider the duty of steadfastness or es- 
tablishment in religion, with an application of it to some few 
points of doctrine. "Be ye steadfast, immovable. 1 ' 

By steadfastness or establishment in religion, we are to 
understand that full persuasion of the mind which is the re- 
sult of knowledge, consideration, and experience; made 
effectual by divine grace, to the full assurance of hope unto 
the end. 

Of this persuasion and assurance, the word which "God in 
these last da}'s hath spoken to us by his Son," as recorded in 
the holy Scriptures, is the only foundation — as it also is, the 
only standard, by which to try the truth of our condition, not 
only as to soundness in doctrine, and holiness of life, but as 
to our conformity likewise, to those appointments of outward 
order, in the Church, the ministry, and the sacraments, which 
our Redeemer has established, as helps to faith, and visible 
signs and means of that grace, by which he "works in us to 
will and to do" — and with us, in working out our everlasting 
salvation. 

Of the truth and soundness of this doctrine, it might be 
supposed there could be no doubt on the mind of any well- 
informed professor of religion; because whatever claim we 
may have on the divine mercy, is by virtue of that covenant 
made with Christ for us, which is revealed in the Scriptures; 
and it is just as necessary to comply with the appointments 
of our Redeemer, in matters of outward order, as in the un- 
disputed attainments of righteousness and true holiness. But 
further, upon the fundamental principle of the gospel, that 

we are saved by grace," it must follow, that whatever re* 



-i 



72 A FAREWELL DISCOURSE. 

lates to our salvation must be ordered, directed, and deter- 
mined, by divine wisdom; and so ordered, as not to be sub- 
ject to any discretion of ours, other than to receive or reject 
it when proposed. Were it otherwise, there could be no such 
thing as certainty in this weighty affair: one man's discretion 
would be as good as another's, and all religion be upturned 
from the foundation. Neither could there be any kind of 
ground for steadfastness or establishment in the faith, were 
it left to man's option, what to take in, or what to leave out, 
in the appointments of God for the salvation of sinners. 

It hence appears undeniably, my brethren, that the duty 
of steadfastness is grounded on conformity in our religious 
state to the vjJiole counsel of God, revealed in his word. 
Otherwise it would be the duty of ministers to exhort men 
to continue steadfast in what was clearly unwarranted by 
the word of God, yea, contrary to it: which is blasphemy 
even to think of. 

This is so clear to the reason of every unprejudiced mind, 
that it is very wonderful it should be so little attended to; 
more especially, when the subject is so differently treated in 
those Scriptures, which all Christians profess to follow as 
their guide. 

In them the exhortations to steadfastness are very frequent; 
while no latitude or discretion is so much as hinted at, as to 
what they were to be steadfast in. 

St. Paul in exhorting Timothy to this duty, does it in these 
words, "But continue thou in the things which thou hast 
learned, and hast been assured of — knowing of whom thou 
hast learned them." Now let us ask ourselves, my brethren, 
Could Timothy have been as well certified of the truth and 
certainty of what lie was to believe, had he received the doc- 
trines from any other than an apostle of Christ? You will 
answer, No. But why not, if truth is the same by whomso- 
ever spoken? Because the truths of revelation, being articles 
of faith, must have a divine warrant; and as such, admit of 
no discretion to interpret or practice them contrary to the 
standard. 

Upon the same principle the apostle presses this duty upon 
the Colossians, nearly in the words of our text. "As ye 
have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye 



A FAREWELL DISCOURSE. 73 

in him, rooted and built up in him, and established in the 
faith as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanks- 
giving." Adding this most salutary caution, "Beware lest 
any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after 
the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and 
not after Christ." 

It is in his Epistle to the Ephesians, however, that we find 
this duty of steadfastness in the faith pressed, upon the sole 
foundation on which it can be required or practised. "There 
is one body, and one spirit, even as ye are called in one hope 
of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God 
and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in 
you all. And he gave some apostles, and some prophets, 
and some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the 
perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the 
edifying of the body of Christ, that we henceforth be no 
more children tossed to and fro, and carried about with every 
wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning crafti- 
ness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive." 

Hence it would appear, as well from the nature of the 
thing, as from the letter and the spirit of Scripture, that 
steadfastness or establishment in religion, does not refer 
singly to the spiritual doctrines of the gospel, but to the 
whole scheme of our redemption — including those appoint- 
ments of our Lord and his apostles, which are outward and 
visible; such as the Church, the ministry, and the sacraments, 
which are devised and ordered by the wisdom of God, as 
means to an end, for our attainment of those higher and 
more spiritual qualifications which form the life and power 
of religion; or, as it is better expressed in this same Epistle, 
"till we all come, in the unity of the faith and of the know- 
ledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the mea- 
sure of the stature of the fullness of Christ." 

Hence, my brethren, we are instructed, that the steadfast- 
ness to which we are exhorted in the text, does not refer to a 
part, but to the whole of our duty as redeemed creatures, 
made wise unto salvation by the revealed word of God; and 
that only as we are thus found submitting ourselves to the 
righteousness of God, can we with any propriety be exhorted 
to persevere unto the end. If in any thing we be found at 



74 A FAREWELL DISCOURSE. 

variance with this rule, the exhortation must be, to consider 
and amend our ways, and seek for that good way, which the 
wisdom of God hath marked out for us to walk in, and in 
which only can we find rest to our souls — "For it is not of 
him that willeth, or of him that runneth, but of God that 
showeth mercy." To be entitled to that mercy, on the only 
safe ground, his revealed word, we must be found within the 
rule which includes it as a covenant stipulation. Of any 
other state or condition different from this, we can say no- 
thing, because we know nothing. There may be mercy, but 
it is not revealed: it is no where promised. 

Let us cleave then, my brethren, "to the law and to the 
testimony," and in imitation of the primitive Christians — 
"continue steadfast in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, 
and in breaking of bread and in prayers." Thus, and thus 
only, shall we walk with assurance through our pilgrimage 
here, finish our course with joy, lie down in peace, awake to 
glory, and meet at the right hand of God — where trial shall 
be ended, duty be free from hindrance, and love and peace, 
from the presence of Father, Son, and Holt Ghost, grow 
and increase through the endless ages of eternity. 

I come now to apply this duty of steadfastness, to some 
particular doctrines of our holy religion. 

And first to the doctrine of the Church, as that on which 
the minds of men in the present day are most unsettled; and, 
together with many Episcopalians, farthest led away from 
the truth of Scripture. 

By the doctrine of the Church, I mean that article of our 
public creed, in which we profess our belief "in the Holy 
Catholic Church," or as it is more definitely expressed in the 
]^icene Creed, "in one Catholic and Apostolic Church." 

Before I go into the subject, I must explain the meaning 
of the words Catholic and Apostolic; for such is the ignorance 
which is fast spreading over us, on this and similar subjects, 
that many, when they hear us express our belief in the Holy 
Catholic Church, associate us with the Church of Rome, and 
are thereby the more easily prejudiced against our claims to 
their notice. 

By the word Catholic, as used in the Creeds, and applied 
to the Church of Christ, is to be understood Universal; and 



A FAREWELL DISCOURSE. 75 

Universal in such a sense, as is opposed to national or par- 
ticular. 

By the word Apostolic is to be understood, the derivation 
of that authority which was committed to the apostles by 
Christ himself, for the founding, extending, establishing and 
ordering his Church to the end of the world; and this in such 
a sense, as is opposed to every other derivation of authority 
whatever. 

That we should have a right understanding of this doctrine, 
of which we regularly profess our belief, is surely very im- 
portant, my brethren, inasmuch as the full persuasion, 
grounded on the testimony of Scripture, that we are mem- 
bers of that one spouse and body of Christ, of which he is 
the Head — of that Church, which he "bought with his own 
blood, and built on the foundation of the apostles and pro- 
phets, himself being the chief corner stone" — that one fold, 
of which he is the Shepherd — that household of which he is 
the Master — that kingdom, of which he is the King — that 
vineyard, of which he is the Lord — is the first foundation of 
any hope in the revealed promises of God. For, however it 
may have fallen into disrepute, in these latter days, as a nar- 
row minded and bigoted doctrine, yet certain it is, that 
there is not a promise from God, in the gospel, to fallen man, 
which is not tied to the condition, that he be a member of 
Christ's visible Church on earth. And we would do well to 
bear in mind, my brethren, that one "thus saith the Lord," 
is of more weight, than all the notions, and reasonings, and 
crooked inventions, and contrivances, of man's wisdom. 

On this doctrine of the Church, then, we are instructed 
from Scripture — 

First, that it is but one. "There is one body." Accord- 
ingly, we never find it spoken of, in these same Scriptures, 
indefinitely, as a Church; but definitely, as the Church. 

This oneness, however, is not to be understood of any par- 
ticular location; for in this respect, it hath no limit but the 
gracious purpose of its divine Founder, to gather together in 
one the children of God scattered ahroad. Hence it is com- 
pared to a vine, which, with but one root, has many branches. 

Secondly, we learn from the same source, that the unity of 
this one Body consists in the belief and profession of the one 



76 A FAREWELL DISCOURSE. 

faith or system of doctrine, revealed by the one Spirit of 
God, and once committed to the saints, or associated mem- 
bers of the Church of Christ, by the preaching of the apos- 
tles; in the service, or obedience to the laws, of the one Lord 
or Head of this body; in the participation of the same sacra- 
ments, as means and pledges of divine grace, and of that 
brotherly love and Christian fellowship in which we are 
joined together, in the worship of "the one God and Father 
of the spirits of all flesh;" and in "the one hope of our calling." 

Thirdly, we are instructed from the same word of God, that 
in this one body or Church of Christ, there is but one source 
of authority for administering the word and sacraments; and, 
that this authority is of divine appointment. "All power is 
given unto me, in heaven and in earth; Go ye, therefore, and 
teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, 
and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost — teaching them to 
observe all things, whatsoever I have commanded you; and 
lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." 

Fourthly, we are taught by the "more sure word of pro- 
phecy," that unto the Church, thus divinely constituted, and 
"built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets," the 
solemn promise is made, that "the gates of hell shall not pre- 
vail against it;" the Holy Spirit given, to abide with it for 
ever, to enlighten, convince, comfort, and sanctify the chil- 
dren of God: and that only as we are members of this one 
body, fruitful branches of this one vine, are "the promises of 
God in Christ, to us yea, and to us, Amen." 

And now let us ask ourselves seriously, my brethren, What 
ground of steadfastness and assurance, in the great work of 
our salvation, can there be to creatures such as we are, other 
than that of divine authority? Can that which is merely 
human, offer any security to our souls? Or, can any mixture 
of human wisdom amend the appointments of heaven, and 
render them more effectual to our good? Alas! what is there 
of endurance in the work or wisdom of man? My brethren, 
is it not written, that "the wisdom of this world cometh to 
naught?" How then can steadfastness, be exhorted to, on a 
ground which is in itself changeable; which our own obser- 
vation proves to be so, by the present state of the Christian 
world, which having once separated from the root of Unity, 



A FAREWELL DISCOURSE. 77 

in the one authority of Christ transmitted through his apos- 
tles, goes on dividing and subdividing, till every original fea- 
ture of the Church is lost, and the great and gracious purpose 
of Christian union and brotherly love, rendered impracticable. 

But it may be asked, and very properly, How is a plain 
man to settle a question on which the learned and the pious 
are so divided? To which I answer, first — "Search the Scrip- 
tures" with a sincere and honest desire to find the truth; re- 
membering, "that the Scripture cannot be broken," and 
therefore every conclusion we come to, to be safe and agree- 
able to "the mind of the Spirit," must be in agreement with 
its whole purpose, and not merely with partial and insulated 
passages of the word. And this course I can recommend 
from my own experience. It was sufficient for me, even 
against prejudice, prepossession, and profession. 

But, secondly, there is a shorter method, my brethren, and 
that is, on the ground of authority. If the authorit}- by 
which any denomination of Christians ministers in sacred 
things, cannot be shown to be derived from the apostles of 
Christ — that is, cannot be verified as a fact, — such denomi- 
nation cannot be a branch of that catholic apostolic Church, 
in which we profess to believe. And I will venture to say, 
had this been more attended to, in the controversies on this 
subject, there would have been less confusion in the minds of 
men, and less unscriptural hope among professors of religion. 

In thus framing my last address to you, my brethren, I 
know that I am treading on what is considered forbidden 
ground; yet I am actuated by a deep sense of the responsibil- 
ity under which I am placed, lest I should be charged with 
keeping back aught that was profitable for you; and, with 
something of St. Peter's spirit, I trust, "I would not be neg- 
ligent to put you always in remembrance of these things 
which are most surely believed among us — And to endeavor, 
moreover, that ye may be able, after my departure, to have 
these things always in remembrance — For we have not fol- 
lowed cunningly devised fables." 

Being aware, also, that mistaken views of Christian chari- 
ty, and erroneous notions of liberality of sentiment, have 
shaken many of you from that steadfastness, on this doctrine, 
which is the only security for consistency and persevereuce 



TS A FAREWELL DISCOURSE. 

as churchmen, I am drawn out the more earnestly to lay be- 
fore you that whole truth in defence of which I am set. And 
may God pardon me for not having done it sooner, and for- 
give all his ministers, who, from love of peace, and false ten- 
derness to the feelings of othprs, have kept back these funda- 
mental doctrines from those of their charge. 

For let us consider, was this the course pursued by St. Paul 
and other apostles, towards those who separated themselves 
from the Church? Did they own such as fellow Christians, 
and their teachers as ministers of Jesus Christ? Or did they 
warn them of their danger, endeavor to reclaim them to their 
duty, and pronounce their schism a deadly sin? Thank God, 
my brethren, that we have the record of their conduct in this 
very case to appeal to. 

Did St. Paul consider the divisions and separations into 
parties in the Corinthian Church as venial faults, as points 
on which private judgment was at liberty to follow its own 
notions, without guilt and danger? Or does he denounce 
them as proofs of a carnal mind, and as the actual sin of 
rending the body of Christ? "Search the Scriptures." Does 
he acknowledge the teachers, who had thus disturbed the 
harmony of the Church, and sown the seeds of strife and con- 
tention among them, as fellow laborers with him in the gos- 
pel, or does he severely condemn them, and charge them as 
ministers of Satan? "Search the Scriptures." 

Does he tell the Galatians, that it was a matter of no mo- 
ment by whom the gospel was preached to them, or what 
additions or alterations were made in the ordinances of reli- 
gion, so that they were believers? Or does he put the proof 
of the fact, that they were believers, on their steadfastness to 
the doctrine he had preached to them, and the order he had 
established among them? Again I say, "Search the Scrip- 
tures." Does he speak to them of any other ground of assu- 
rance in the faith, than the authority by which he was ac- 
credited to them as the minister of Christ? Does he define 
Christian liberty to be a principle of dissent from established 
order, at every man's private discretion — a privilege to go 
where we will, follow whom we like, and believe what suits 
our particular views, in the Christian revelation? Once more 
I say, "Search the Scriptures." No, my brethren, 2s r o. "What 



A FAREWELL DISCOURSE. T9 

then, let me ask, becomes of the specious cant of the present 
day, the spurious liberality of opinion, so eagerly contended 
for in this question, that it matters not to what communion 
of professing Christians a man unites himself; that he is equal- 
ly safe in one as in another? Is it warranted by either rea- 
son or Scripture; or is it not rather one of those deceits, where- 
with "Satan, transformed into an angel of light," is cunning- 
ly contriving to defeat the efficacy of the gospel? 

With such high authority, then, for our belief and prac- 
tice, and with even such arguments as I am able to bring- 
forward in confirmation thereof — shall any of you yet halt 
between two opinions, my brethren; and by continuing to 
give countenance to separation and division in the Church of 
Christ, contribute to confirm the delusion, under which so 
many are led away from the only foundation, and deceived 
into "crying Peace, where there is no peace" — certainly none 
revealed? God forbid! No, let us rather consider afresh the 
foundation on which such opinions are built, whether on the 
word of God, or the wisdom of man; and, separating the pre- 
cious from the vile, be so grounded and settled in the faith 
of the gospel order and doctrine, that we may be steadfast, 
unmovable, adorning the doctrine we profess, by lives and 
conversation void of offence. 

And you, my dissenting hearers, am I your enemy, because 
I tell you the truth? God knoweth. But whether it is the 
truth, is the question. Try it, then, by the touchstone of eter- 
nal truth, the word of God, and as you find it, receive it; for 
in the words of St. Paul, "We can do nothing against the 
truth, but for the truth." 

Secondly, to the divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ. 
On steadfastness, or establishment in the belief of this doc- 
trine, the whole comfort and efficacy of the Christian religion 
depend. For if Jesus Christ of Nazareth is a creature, that 
is, any thing less than "God manifest in the flesh," no matter 
how high he may be exalted in the scale of being, no just 
confidence can be placed in the atonement he hath made for 
our sins by his death upon the cross, on the virtue of his 
intercession for sinners, and on his ability "to save to the 
uttermost all who come unto God bv him." 

On the essential divinity of our Lord, also, depends our 



SO A FAREWELL DISCOURSE. 

iiope of eternal life; for it is expressly said by St. John, "that 
God hath given to us eternal life; and this life is in his Son." 
Our Lord himself also declares the same thing, "My sheep 
hear my voice, and I give unto them eternal life." Now 
without any dispute whatever, if our blessed Lord hath not 
this life in himself, but by delegation from another in such wise 
as belongs to the condition of a created being, the security of 
the believer for the attainment of it is not only weakened, 
but shaken to its very foundation. Because faith cannot 
rationally rely upon any thing less than infinite, for the 
fulfilment of what is promised; and because all certainty in 
the revealed word of God, as the only ground of faith, is 
hereby defeated — and the Scriptures rendered of no more 
value than a novel cr a newspaper. And I put the question 
thus, to show you, my brethren, how much depends upon it; 
and to warn you against all careless reception of the doctrines 
of our religion, because no steadfastness can be relied upon, 
without such conviction as springs from examination and 
consideration. A man may indeed adhere most firmly to a 
doctrine or opinion, for which he can give no reason, and for 
which, in fact, none can be given; but such adherence is 
either obstinacy, or implicit faith: it is not what the apostle 
means by steadfastness. 

This doctrine of the essential divinity of Jesus Christ, be- 
ing at once the foundation and the corner stone of Christian 
hope, — "on this rock will I build my Church," — has from 
the beginning been a favorite point of attack to the enemy of 
our souls; because success here, rendered all other tempta- 
tions needless — it being an actual and fatal denial of Christ, 
to deny his essential divinity; and because also, the enter- 
tainment of this heresy is quite compatible with, in fact leads 
to, that self-righteousness, which apes the morality of the 
gospel, and lulls into a fatal security those who, from con- 
stitutional temperament or worldly condition, are less ex- 
posed to those temptations which lead to gross sin, and out- 
breaking wickedness. 

In the commencement of Christianity, the attack upon 
this doctrine was supported chiefly by metaphysical argu- 
ments, drawn from the nature of God; from the expressly re- 
vealed, and by all Christians acknowledged, doctrine of the 



A FAKE WELL DISCOURSE . 81 

unity of the divine essence; and from the impossibility of 
understanding, so as to believe, the catholic doctrine of the 
Trinity of persons, in the unity of the Godhead. In the present 
day, however, though these weapons are not abandoned, the 
main reliance seems to be on the resources of learning and 
critical acuteness, to explain away, or even to expunge, 
those texts of Scripture which either directly or by conse- 
quence assert this vital doctrine. 

Against both these modes of attack, therefore, it behooves 
every Christian, and especially every Christian minister, to 
be guarded; and thankful we should be, my brethren and 
hearers, that unless we believe men rather than God — unless 
we prefer a creature, that is, a created being, to the Most 
High God, as our Saviour — unless we yield to the pride of 
the carnal mind, choose to be our own Saviour, and risk 
meeting God in judgment, in our own righteousness; we are 
amply furnished to withstand the many vain talkers and 
deceivers, who are now "banded together against the Lord 
and against his anointed," and are busy to upturn this cardi- 
nal point of "the faith once committed to the saints," and, 
with an earnestness that would be commendable in a better 
cause, are endeavoring to instill the poison of this damnable 
heresy into the minds of the ignorant, the simple, and the 
unwary. 

!N ow the means with which we are provided to withstand 
this master delusion of the devil, are, the word of God, and 
Christian experience. 

In the revelation made to us from Heaven by the Holy 
Ghost, speaking through the Prophets — by Jesus Christ, 
declaring the will of the Father — and by his Apostles, under 
the visible and sensible guidance and direction of the Spirit 
of truth; we find the Redeemer and Saviour of sinful man, 
represented at once as the Son of God, and the Son of man; 
and in the personal history of Jesus of Nazareth, and in him 
only, do we perceive the perfect union of this wonderful 
designation. For we behold in his birth, in his life, in his 
death and resurrection, the infinite attributes of Jehovah, 
and the finite condition of our mortal nature, exemplified. 
Now, why should this be thought a thing impossible with 
God, or incredible with men? Is the union of the divine 
[Vol. 1,— *6.] 



$3 A FAREWELL DISCOURSE. 

with the human nature, either more incredible or more im- 
possible, than that of an immortal soul with a mortal body? 
In no wise, except in degree, which operates not at all against 
omnipotence. All arguments, therefore, framed against the 
divinity of Christ from this source, and from our inability 
to comprehend the manner of such an existence, are equally 
good against the being of God, and against our own being; 
they are therefore good for nothing, but to show the daring 
impiety of men, who would be "wise above what is written.' 7 

In the purpose which such a mysterious union was to 
answer, as revealed to us, is there any thing discordant, 
superfluous, or unnecessary? In no shape or sense whatever, 
my brethren: for the purpose was to reconcile God and man, 
separated and put at enmity by sin; therefore none could be 
competent to this work, but such an one as was partaker of 
both natures, and as a mediator, or daysman," as Job styles 
him, qualified to lay his hand upon both parties in this awful 
controversy. 

It was also in the purpose of this appointment of God's 
rich redeeming love, to procure mercy for man, a sinner, 
consistently with the dignity of God, an offended sovereign. 
Xow this could no otherwise be done, than by the nature 
which had sinned, suffering the penalty of the law it had 
broken; so that full satisfaction might thereby be made to 
divine justice, and the offender brought within the reach of 
pardon. But this satisfaction, to be full and complete, must 
be commensurate with the offence; which, as against God, 
was infinite. But no finite or created being can perform an 
infinite condition; therefore, if we are redeemed at all — if 
Christianity is not a fable- — -that being who took our nature 
upon him, appeared in the world in the person of a man, and 
according to the predictions of the prophets, suffered and 
died upon the cross for our salvation, must have -been very 
and eternal God. From this argument there is no escape, as 
the opponents of Christ's divinity are well aware; they there- 
fore cut the knot which they cannot untie, and cast away 
from their system of unbelief, all the distinguishing doctrines 
of Christianity, denying the fall, and consequent depravity 
of man's nature, the atonement of the cross, the meritorious 
righteousness of the Redeemer, as the only ground of our 



A FAREWELL DISCOURSE. 83 

justification and acceptance with God, and the gift of the 
Holy Spirit, as the only root whence all holy desires, all 
good counsels, and all just works do proceed, in redeemed 
man. Oh, what a desperate delusion that must be, which, 
thus turns light into darkness, hope into despair, and mercy 
into condemnation! 

Frcm this union of the divine and human nature in the 
man Christ Jesus, results the manner in which he is spoken- 
of in the Scriptures. We read of him as God; as the Son of 
God; as equal to the Father; as one with the Father: and we 
read of him as man; as the son of man; as lower than the 
Father; as acting by commission from the Father. Of this 
necessary manner of speaking of him, the adversaries of his 
religion would take advantage against his divinity. But 
what is there in it to stumble any fair mind? What is there 
in it inconsistent with either the power or the purpose of 
God in the great work of man's redemption? Yea, what is 
there spoken of our Redeemer in the Scriptures, which if 
unsaid, would not involve the subject in tenfold greater 
difficulty, and furnish a much more powerful (yea, and 
reasonable too) ground of opposition and unbelief of this doc- 
trine — the uniform faith of the Catholic Apostolic Church 
from the day of the Pentecost to the present moment? 

The truth is, my brethren, that there is no difficulty in the 
question, unless to those who seek occasion against the Gos- 
pel. The fact of our Lord's divinity being revealed, is all 
that we are concerned with. The mystery of the incarnation 
of God the Son, must remain such, while we remain what 
we are; but our belief of the fact depends in no degree on 
our being able to solve this mystery. Nor are the benefits 
to be derived from it, limited upon any such condition. Tea, 
rather may we observe — and observe to take the warning — 
that this presumptuous intruding into the secret things of 
God, is most commonly visited with that strong delusion, 
which leads to believing a lie, or which is the same thing, 
to unbelief. 

On the question of fact, then, it is, that this doctrine must 
ever rest, for its reception or rejection among Christians. 
This its opponents well know, as also that the fact is against 
them. To obscure this fact, therefore, and if possible, to dis 

t 



A FAREWELL DISCOURSE. 

prove it, by invalidating the testimony for it in the "record 
which God hath given to us of his Son," has been their main 
object. To this end, the learning, the critical skill and in- 
genuity of the whole body of unbelievers, has been put in 
requisition. The original text of the Scriptures has been 
twisted into every contortion of various reading; the sound 
and acknowledged canons of criticism have been disregarded 
and perverted; the established rules of grammatical construc- 
tion have been violated: but all in vain, except to "preten- 
ders to science falsely so called," to superficial sciolists, and 
proud contemners of the wisdom of God, and of the wants 
of our fallen nature. To the sound scholar, and at the same 
time fair and candid man, the weakness of their cause, and 
futility of the arguments with which they would support it, 
are apparent; because no otherwise than by a combined vio- 
lation of the meaning of language, of the rules of grammar, 
and of the dictates of common sense, can they obtain even a 
show of success to their cause. To such an one, the word of 
revelation is strengthened and confirmed by their abortive 
attempts. It stands amid this war of infidels, like an un- 
shaken rock in the raging ocean, whose proud waves lash 
themselves to froth against its base, while its summit shines 
Berene and peaceful amid the sunbeams of heaven. 

But it is not only to the learned, that it is given to enjoy 
this satisfactory proof of the divinity of our blessed Redeemer. 
No, my brethren, thanks be to God, every real Christian, 
whether learned or not, is furnished with it, in his experience 
of that gospel in which it is revealed, and which is "the 
power of God unto salvation, to every one that believeth." 
For there is no one, who has been truly convinced of sin by 
the Spirit of God — who has been brought to feel what it is, 
in its malignity, as an offence against God, how infinite in 
its guilt, and damnable in its very nature — and has been 
enabled by the same Holy Spirit to believe in the Lord 
Jesus Christ, as the great sin-offering, through whom only 
pardon and grace can be obtained — who can entertain any 
doubt of the infinite virtue of that atonement (and, of course, 
of the infinite nature of him who made it,) whereby "God can 
be just, and yet the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus." 

Being thus furnished, my brethren, in the express revela- 



A FAREWELL DISCOURSE. 85 

tion which God hath made to us concerning his son Jesus 
Christ our Lord, and (if we are Christians indeed) in our 
experience of the efficacy of his word and grace upon our 
hearts and lives, with the most irrefragable testimony for the 
divinity of our Lord and Saviour, let us cleave to this true 
and faithful witness; and building ourselves up in our most 
holy faith, "continue steadfast and immovable," in the belief 
of this article of the catholic faith, as the only doctrine which 
makes Christianity consistent with itself — with its author — 
with its object; as the only foundation on which faith can be 
fixed with assurance, hope entertained with reason, and 
eternal life realized by the sinners who descend from Adam. 
If there are any in this world descended from another stock, 
they may sport with this doctrine: but to us, my brethren, 
there is hope only in u the Lord our righteousness;" and in 
him no otherwise than as he is "God over all, blessed for 
ever," and therefore "able to save to the uttermost all who 
come unto God by him." 

I did intend, my brethren, to have applied this duty to 
the belief of the doctrine of the Trinity, as the faith of the 
one Catholic Apostolic Church: but the time will not permit. 
This, however, is the less to be regretted, as whatever tends 
to establish the divinity of the Saviour, is conclusive, so far, 
for the Trinity of persons in the unity of the Godhead. Let 
me say this much, however; that it is a doctrine, like that of 
the incarnation, or the being of God himself, revealed to our 
faith only; that is, dependent for its reception and obliga- 
tion, solely on the authority of the revealer, and not on any 
capacity in us to understand and unravel its mysteries. 

I come now to the 

II. Second head of my text, which is, to lay before you 
the necessity and advantage of diligence and eno-aaemeut in 
all your Christian duties. 

It is a humbling reflection, my brethren, but one which 
may be very profitably applied, that the constant tendency 
of our fallen natures is, rather to become remiss, to faint and 
grow weary in the Christian race, than to "press towards the 
mark, lor the prize of our high calling of God in Christ 
Jksl's." To this various causes contribute; the corruption of 
our nature, the weakness of our faith, the temptations of the 



S6 A FAREWELL DISCOURSE. 

woi-ld, the care of our necessary business, and the use made 
of all these by .the enemy of our souls, ever on the watch to 
ensnare us. There is, however, one more, not often thought 
of; and that is, the measuring ourselves by others, the taking 
a standard of Christian attainment from those around us, and 
not from the word of God. 

In exhorting you, then, to diligence and earnestness in all 
your Christian duties, let me warn you against the insidious 
influence of this false estimate; let me beseech you to guard 
against it with care, for it is the commencement of that 
slothfulness which begets indifference, and ends in "a form of 
godliness without the power." 

My brethren, it is not sufficient that our lives be orderly 
and decent, free from the crying enormities of the openly 
profane and ungodly. This will not fulfill the injunction of 
"abounding always in the work of the Lord." A higher ex- 
ample is called for, from the Christian, both in his own pri- 
vate deportment, and in his connexion with others. He is 
to "let his light shine before men;" which certainly implies 
such a marked and decided preference of his eternal interests, 
and such a constant and habitual pursuit of them, as shows 
that he is "seeking first the kingdom of God, and his 
righteousness." 

Yes, my brethren, the religion of the Gospel is a living, 
practical principle, of love to God, of obedience to his holy 
laws, of faith in his revealed word, and hope in his precious 
promises, through Jesus Christ, wrought in the heart by the 
power of the Holy Ghost, pervading our whole condition, 
operating on all our concerns, and manifesting its sanctified 
influence by fruits of righteousness in the life and conver- 
sation of the man. Yet while it is thus heavenly and spiritual 
in its origin and nature, it is a principle wisely adapted to 
our condition as moral beings, requiring our hearty con- 
currence and co-operation — our faithful and diligent improve- 
ment of grace given. It is God indeed "that worketh in us 
both to will and to do of his good pleasure," or, rather, as 
the word should be translated, of his "goodness;" but it is 
for this very reason that he requires us "to work out our own 
salvation with fear and trembling," that is, with care and 
diligence; and enforces this practical principle of all godli- 



A FAREWELL DISCOURSE. 87 

ness with the solemn and equitable declaration, "unto every 
one that hath, shall be given, and he shall have abundance, 
but from him that hath not, shall be taken away even that 
which he hath." 

Hence the necessity of diligence and earnestness in re- 
ligion, is just the necessity of being saved at all: without 
these, there can be no progress, no advancement, no growth 
in grace, no improvement, and, as we learn from the parable 
of the talents, .no salvation. "Cast ye the unprofitable ser- 
vant into outer darkness," because he slothfully hid his 
talent in the earth, and gave not my money to the exchangers. 

And the advantage of thus "abounding in the work of the 
Lord," is precisely the advantage of greater inclination to, 
and enlarged ability for, the performance of our various 
duties; with increased enjoyment of that inward peace and 
satisfaction of spirit, which flows from conformity to the will 
of God. And herein, my brethren, the appointments of 
divine wisdom in the kingdom of-graceare directed upon the 
same principle with those in the kingdom of nature. As 
knowledge, industry, care and diligence, yea and self-denial 
too, are essential to success in worldly undertakings; so are 
they indispensable to the same end, in those which are 
heavenly; and we may just as reasonably expect to reap 
where we have not sowed, as to hope for the reward of glory, 
without earnest and persevering endeavor. 

Shall, then, the children of this world still be wiser in their 
generation than the children of light? Shall they bring every 
thought into obedience, every passion into subjection, and 
every effort to bear upon the master-wish of their souls? and 
Christians remain cold and languid, and indifferent to the 
holy hope which they profess to entertain? Shall the ser- 
vants of the god of this world, by their zeal and earnestness, 
put to shame the servants of the God of heaven? Shall they 
who strive for an earthly crown, leave behind them in the 
race, those who strive for one heavenly and eternal? God' 
forbid! 

Yet how is it with us, my brethren, in this respect? "Where 
are our affections laid up; in heaven, or upon earth, or mixed 
of both? O, purge out the dross, "that ye may grow up an 
holy temple unto the Lord." O, keep near your hearts the 



88 A FAREWELL DISCOUKSE. 

solemn thought of that awful morning, when the voice of the 
archangel and the trump of God shall call up our sleeping- 
dust, to meet the judgment of Christ; and let it re-act to stir 
you up to that diligence, without which there is no crown 
of glory — to diligence in personal religion — to diligence in 
those duties which you have solemnly engaged, before God, 
to perform towards your children — to diligence in watchful- 
ness against the deluding and dangerous pleasures of that 
world, which you have openly renounced for them and for 
yourselves — to diligence in the performance of all the charities 
of life, which spread peace and good-will around you, and 
mark you as the disciple of that master "who went about 
doing wood." Seek no release from the full measure of vour 
duties; yield to no compromise with the world and the flesh; 
fear no reproach for the name of Christ; but "continue stead- 
fast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, 
forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the 
Lord." 

"Which brings me to the last head of my discourse, to-wit: 

III. The reward which awaits the faithful. 

To what this is in itself, mv feeble tongue can add nothing, 
my brethren; for even inspiration shrinks from the attempt, 
as beyond the reach both of utterance and imagination: but 
the reward is not, therefore, either the less sure, or the less 
glorious. 

Suffice it, then, to say, that it will be happiness — unmixed 
felicity — flowing from the unclouded presence and favor of 
God, upon creatures sublimated and prepared for its recep- 
tion and enjoyment. It will be unalloyed bliss, increased by 
the presence of that merciful Saviour, who "loved us, and 
washed us from our sins in his own blood," and drawing 
forth from every heart tlmse rapturous ascriptions of glory 
and praise to God and the Lamb, of which immortal natures 
alone are capable; adding even to the blessedness of our Re- 
deemer, when he thus "sees of the travail of his soul, - ' and 
reaps the full fruit of his mighty conflict with sin and death, 
in the millions for ever rescued from their power. 

It will moreover be eternal; liable to no diminution, sub- 
ject to no change, free from all interruptions, and knowing 
no end, for ever blessed, and for ever increasing in blessed- 



A FAKEWELL DISCOURSE. 89 

riess: and what can I say more, my brethren, but this? Who 
then shall separate us from the love of Christ, which 
hath purchased so lively a hope for us? Shall unbelief 
freeze up our hearts against the love of God in Christ Jesds? 
Shall indolence and carelessness beget indifference to so un- 
speakable a reward; shall the cares of this life shut out the 
care of our immortal souls; shall the pleasures or the profits 
of the world ensnare us to barter eternit} 7 for time? In a 
word, shall Christ die in vain for any of us, to whom he is 
offered as a Saviour? God forbid! Keep, then, ever present 
to you, my brethren, that special doctrine, upon which the 
exhortation of my text is founded, resurrection of the body. 
This gives to that eternal life which we hope for, a peculiar 
character, and to the religion of the gospel, a singular in- 
fluence. We shall meet again, dear brethren, and with a 
personal knowledge of each other. We shall meet again 
with a clear recollection of all that we have enjoyed or suffer- 
ed together here. We shall meet again under the influence 
of all those sweet charities, which constitute the happiness of 
the present life, refined and spiritualized to the nature of 
immortals, yet forming a part of the blessedness of heaven. 
Upon these, therefore, it is, that the practical duties of re- 
ligion are made to bear. Our love to God must be mani- 
fested by love to each other, and our fitness for heaven de- 
termined by its influence on our lives here. Let, then, this 
solemn and encourag-intr doctrine be realized in all its extent: 
for by this, we look forward with hope and joy, to a re-union 
with those who have already fallen asleep in Christ before 
us: by this, we are enabled to surrender to God, without 
murmuring, those he sees fit to take from us, however dear: 
by this, the duties we are prompted to by natural affection, 
towards our families, friends, and neighbors, are sanctified to 
a holier purpose: by this, the narrow boundary of time is 
overstepped, and what we now are, is united with what we 
shall be, when time shall be no longer, and "God shall be all 
in all." 

And now, dear brethren, what remains, but thatI u commend 
you to God and the word of his grace" — which I do most 
heartily. The near relation in which we have stood to each 
other for the last seven years, is about to determine. But 



90 A FAKEWELLDISCOTTESE. 

nothing, I think, can determine the affection I bear towards 
you, but that stroke, which shall determine all earthly things. 
"Ye are in our heart to live and die with you;" but the provi- 
dence of God hath ordered otherwise: for I sought neither 
the change nor the promotion. In many things, doubtless, I 
have come short in the duty I owed you, but not with inten- 
tion: for all which I humbly crave pardon of God, and of 
you: but in nothing have you failed that you owed to me, 
save, only, in earning your respect for me too far; and would 
you make me more your debtor, continue your regard to my 
successor, in whom I feel a confidence which lessens my 
anxiety in leaving you. 

Under the pain of separating from you, it is pleasant, how- 
ever, to reflect, that during the whole time I have been in 
charge of this parish, I have had no necessity to resort to 
public censure upon any of the members of the Church — 
private admonition having been sufficient: and even to that, 
but in a few instances. Continue thus, then, my brethren, 
that your own comfort and peace may be increased, and that 
the God of love and peace may be with you. 

"Now, unto him who is able to keep you from falling, and 
to present you faultless before the presence of his glory, with 
exceeding joy; to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory 
and majesty, dominion and power, both now and for ever. 
Amen." 



■ * 
A SERMON ON THE {JHURCH, 

DELIVERED BEFORE THE 

ANNUAL CONVENTION OF THE CHURCH IN NORM CAROLINA, 

IN ST. JOHN'S CHURCH, WILLIAMSBOROUGH, GRANVILLE COUNTY, 

Mat 6, 1824. 

Amos, vii, 5, latter clause. 

"By whom shall Jacob arise? for he is small." 

■ 

The providences and dealings of Almighty God, for and 
with his Church, form a very conspicuous and instructive 
portion of the inspired writings. Indeed we might be justi- 
fied in observing, that the whole scheme of revelation and 
prophecy is predicated on the existence of a body or society 
of men, distinct from and called out of the world, as the pe- 
culiar people o/'God; and that the dealings of God, whether 
in acts of mercy, or in the infliction of judgments, refer pri- 
marily to this his inheritance; through that, to .the rest of 
mankind, and ultimately, as we are warranted in believing and 
saying, to the higher intelligences of the unseen world. "To 
the intent," (says the apostle to the Ephesians, iii. 10,) "that 
now, unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places, 
might be known by the Church, the manifold wisdom of God." 

Thus divine in its origin, influential in its character, and 
single in its designation, it presents a subject of the most im- 
pressive consideration to all mankind; inasmuch, as it is only 
in connexion with this body or society, that the revealed pro- 
mises and hopes given in and by Jesus Christ, are assured 
to men, and the appointed means of grace and salvation 
brought within their reach. 

Under this view, a brief notice of the distinctive character 
of the Church, as presented in the Scriptures, will prepare 
the way for an appropriate improvement of the text. 

That this point has been greatly neglected, and held back 
from the public edification of Christians, even by those who 
were nevertheless entrusted with its defence and support, is 



92 A SERMON ON THE CHURCH. 

unhappily too evident, and the consequences are such, as to 
warn both ministers and people, that it is time to retrace 
their steps; and by considering this vital doctrine in its ap- 
plication to the hope of man as a sinner, to learn its influ- 
ential bearing on the advancement of pure and undefiled 
religion in the world. 

I feel, my reverend brethren, as I doubt not you also do — 
the full difficulty with which long neglect, and the conse- 
quent prevalence, and almost establishment, of erroneous 
opinion, invests the subject. But I trust that I feel, and that 
you feel, the awful responsibility of our respective steward- 
ships, and are prepared to meet whatever may be required 
by a conscientious discharge of duty. And I trust also, that 
you, m} T brethren of the laity, feel that lively interest in the 
cause we have in hand, which shall ensure your hearty co- 
operation in such plans for the revival of the Church in 
her pure and primitive character, as its present condition, 
and the means in our control, shall render advisable; while 
I cannot permit myself to suppose, that amid the variety of 
opinions on this subject now before me, there can one be 
found, by whom it will be considered an unnecessary or un- 
profitable discussion. Error, my dear hearers, however sanc- 
tioned by time and numbers, still retains its character: truth, 
however obscured by ignorance or prejudice, or rejected by 
men, is yet eternal and unchangeable as its author. And 
when eternity, with all its glories, or with all its horrors, is 
suspended upon truth or error, here received and followed; 
the astounded exclamation of Pilate, before our blessed Lord, 
"What is truth?" should burst from all our lips, and engage 
our inquiries. 

To every class of my hearers, then, I must believe that a 
candid and scriptural, though necessarily brief, inquiry into 
the origin and purpose of the Church, and of the appoint- 
ments of Heaven in it, for the salvation of man, must be both 
desirable and profitable. While to us, my clerical and lay 
brethren of this convention, it is essential to the right per- 
formance of the duties devolved on us, that we view the sub- 
ject in this light, as well as in the causes which contributed 
to its decline; otherwise, with the best intentions, our efforts 
may prove abortive, because erroneously devised and impro- 



A SERMON ON THE CHOKCII. 93 

perly directed. If Jacob is ever to arise, it must be as Jacob, 
and not as Esau. 

First, as to the origin of the Church. 

That the Church is divine in its origin, and in the appoint- 
ments connected with it, is so generally admitted a doctrine, 
that the less may suffice on this point; yet it ought ever to be 
borne in mind, that this divine institution of the wisdom and 
goodness of God, is not an abstract idea to be entertained in 
the mind; but an actual, visible, accessible body or society, 
for practical use; deriving its constitution, laws and author- 
ity, directly from God. As such, it is placed beyond the 
reach of any human appointment, addition, or alteration; and 
this so strictly, that all the wisdom, piety, and authority in 
the world, congregated together, is just as incompetent to 
originate a Church, as to call another universe into existence. 
This, however, will be more evident, when we come, in the 
next place, to consider the purpose of such an institution. And 
as this is the key which unlocks all the difficulties that sur- 
round this subject, from the divided state of the Christian 
world, it will be necessary to consider what led to the ap- 
pointment of the Church as a distinct body, with a visible 
and verifiable character. 

The dispensations of Heaven's mercy and wisdom for the 
salvation of fallen man, are presented to us under various 
aspects; all oi' which are closely connected with each other; 
yet with marks of distinct discrimination, manifesting, never- 
theless, that it is the same plan, modified and fitted by the 
Almighty himself, to the condition of that poor, perverse, 
and opposing being, for whose benefit it was all provided, 
and who has never ceased to corrupt and depart from it, in 
every age of the world. 

Under the^V.^, or Patriarchal dispensation, as it is called, 
of religion, as the benefits of the covenant of redemption 
were to be continued in their knowledge and operation, by 
the influence of parental instruction, and a family priesthood, 
no particular designation as a Church, or visible society, with 
privileges and obligations, promises and helps, of a special 
description, was marked out. Each family composed a Church 
for the worship of God, and was furnished with the necessary 
means of grace within itself, in the ottering of that sacrifice 



94 A SEK3I0N ON THE CHURCH. 

which prefigured "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the 
world," and was appointed and intended, to keep alive in 
the minds of men the knowledge of their fallen condition, 
and of the only method of recovery from it. 

"When, however, an experience of one thousand and five 
hundred years had proved that the corruption of human na- 
ture was too powerful to be withstood and counteracted by 
this method of continuing the influence of religion in the 
world; and when a farther trial of the same means, for the 
space of five hundred years more, under the fresh remem- 
brance, too, of the recent destruction of the ungodly by the 
general deluge, and the still more recent visitation of the 
dispersion at Babel, had demonstrated, that they "did not 
like to retain God in their knowledge;" but had "corrupted 
their way before him," and departed from both the letter and 
spirit of his institutions — then it pleased the merciful Saviour 
of poor sinners again to interpose; and by selecting from this 
mass of corruption, another family, through that to restore, 
and continue in the world, the true knowledge of God, of the 
worship acceptable to him, of the expectation of a Deliverer, 
in the promised seed of the woman, and of the means of that 
grace by which only can fallen man be "renewed in the spirit 
of his mind," delivered from the guilt and power of sin, and 
from that eternal death which is its only wages. 

In this, the second dispensation of true religion provided 
for mankind, the distinction from that which preceded it, to 
be most carefully marked and considered by us, is, its cove- 
nanted and peculiar character; in other words, the limited 
and prescribed conditions, on which, only, its privileges and 
advantages can be obtained. If we overlook this, we over- 
look its most distinguishing feature, lose that deeply impres- 
sive lesson, which it was intended to teach us, and pass over 
the most interesting, because most influential part of the 
whole transaction; that of a new relation to God, conferred 
upon men by outward and visible marks, and henceforth 
confined and limited within this institution. For it is this, 
and this only, my brethren and friends, which marks its sep- 
aration from the rest of the world, as the Church, the pecu- 
llum, the elect of God. Because of this its distinctive cha- 
racter it was made the visible and only depository of his 



A SERMON ON THE CHURCH. 95 

revealed will and precious promises. For certainty and as- 
surance, to this Church were committed those lively oracles 
of divine truth, which were corrupted and lost under the cus- 
tody of tradition. And in it was prepared and established 
that body of testimony to the person and offices of Jesus 
Christ, as the promised seed of the woman, which shines so 
bright, so enlivening, comfortable, and irrefragable to us, 
under the gospel. Through this channel only, was to flow 
hereafter, that chain of revelation, prophecy, and providence, 
which constitutes and confirms the hope of man. And to 
mark its dignity and pre-eminence, and to fulfill the wise 
purposes of its founder, the condition of the rest of the world, 
in- the rise and fall of its kingdoms, and in the operation of 
its various events, is overruled, and made subservient to the 
advancement, enlargement, and final establishment of this 
kingdom of God upon the earth, against all the opposition of 
men and devils combined. 

For the order and uniformity of the public, prescribed, 
and, therefore, only acceptable service of God, in this his 
sanctuary, a divinely constituted priesthood was appointed, 
through which alone, were the people permitted to present 
their united worship, to offer up the proper sacrifice for per- 
sonal as well as general sin, and to draw assurance of for- 
giveness, through the efficacy of that great sin-offering, atone- 
ment, and expiation, which all their sacrifices represented. 

Hence, my brethren, the singular and personal character 
under which it is spoken of, throughout the Scriptures; that 
sacred unity with which it is invested: hence that zeal for its 
purity and interest, so constantly manifested, and that care 
with' which its constitution and government were fenced 
against all intrusion. 

Hence also, the strong lamniasre in which its endurance or 
everlasting continuance is spoken of in the Scriptures; which 
proves that it was not a temporary appointment; but insepa- 
rably connected with the wonderful plan of man's redemp- 
tion, and to run parallel with it, and to be efficient in it, 
"until the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the 
Lord, as the waters cover the great deep — and the kingdoms 
of this world become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his 
Christ.'' 



90 A SERMON ON THE CHUECH. 

Here, then, my brethren and friends, let us pause a mo- 
ment, and look back and reflect, what would have been the 
state of the world, what would have been our individual con- 
dition, had this wise and merciful provision of the love of 
God never been appointed; had men been left, as justly they 
might have been, to the influence of traditional knowledge, 
as the ground and the means of salvation for sinners — and 
let the awful religious blank which the thought reflects back 
upon the mind, awaken us to consider more carefully the 
foundation on which we are building for eternity; whether 
on this certified and verifiable basis of God's appointment, 
or on some presumptuous imitation of its lineaments, by the 
weak and incompetent intrusion of human wisdom. — U I speak 
as unto wise men, judge ye what I say." 

But to proceed. Thus divine in its origin, constitution, 
and appointments, definite in its purpose, and singular in its 
character, the Old Testament Church stands alone in the 
world, like the ark on the waters of the deluge, the sole de- 
pository of the truth and of the people of God; nor is their 
access to it, nor admissiou within its saving enclosure, other- 
wise than according to the institution of its founder. It was 
competent to no man — not even to Lot, or to Melchizedec — 
to obtain its privileges, without its seal. Whatever of mercy 
might be in store for them and the rest of mankind observing 
•'the law written in the heart," it was not the pledged and 
promised mercy made over to the Church. Whatever the 
truth or reasonableness of any religious duty might be; how- 
ever well founded the hope of God's favor, from conformity 
to the dictates of natural conscience; it was not the truth con- 
firmed by express revelation: it was not the hope which 
springs from the promise of God, certified by outward, visi- 
ble, and appointed ordinances, as helps to faith, means of 
grace, and assurances of a relationship to God in which none 
other stood, transacted through an authorized and accredited 
agent. 

This, my brethren and hearers, is that deeply impressive 
and influential character in which "the Church of the living 
God" is presented to our notice and use, in working out our 
eternal salvation. This is that commanding feature, by which 
it is to be distinguished by us from all imitations of it by 



f 

A SERMON ON THE CHURCH. 



either the piety or the presumption of fallible men; and it is 
by tracing it, according to this its specific character, through 
all the dealings and providences of its founder, that we, at 
this day, are enabled to discover and distinguish this ark of 
safety, this special deposit of the promises of God to a fallen 
world, this authorized source of agency between heaven and 
earth. For the Church of Christ, under the New Testament 
dispensation, is not a new or fresh appointment of God, in 
the sense and meaning too commonly entertained; but a con- 
tinuation of the old, in all its essential provisions. The same, 
and not a new divine origination; the same, and not a fresh 
devised constitution of government, administration, and au- 
thority; with the same and not another holy purpose of sepa- 
ration, certainty and assurance to men, in things spiritual 
and invisible; and this, upon the sure ground, that Jesus 
Christ "is the same, yesterday, to-day, and for ever." 

From not attending to this essential point to the very be- 
ing of a Church, room has been given for the intrusion of 
man's presumption into this sacred appointment, and to deal 
with it as the creature of his contrivance, as a thing subject 
to his alteration and amendment. By losing sight of the 
intimate relation and analogy between the Old and New 
'Testament dispensations; by failing to consider the one as 
perfective of the other, confusion and obscurity on this sub- 
ject have spread over the Christian world; and division and 
distraction, instead of union and peace, have been the bitter 
fruit; while the event has fulfilled the prediction of our Lord, 
in impeding the progress of the gospel, and encouraging that 
infidel spirit which turns away from the truth because those 
who call themselves the disciples of Christ, bite and devour 
one another. Above all, by neglecting to apply the test 
which God himself has provided, whereby to determine the 
certainty with which we are transacting our spiritual affairs, 
in the very natural inquiry — "By what authority doest thou 
these things?" and substituting, in lieu thereof, the reputed 
piety and holiness of particular men, has the darkness be- 
come thicker and blacker, and the powerful prejudices of 
pride and profession been enlisted against the truth; so that 
men — reasonable beings, with the light of God's word in their 
[Vol. 1,— *7.] 



yb A SEEHOST ON THE CHUECH. 

hands — contentedly trust their souls to a security, on whieb 
they would not risk their estates. 

Yet the truth remaineth, my brethren and friends, unaf- 
fected in its heavenly and unchangeable nature by any per- 
verseness and opposition of men. And to us it is given, by 
the distinguishing mercy of God, to know and ascertain the 
truth, to the comfort and health of our souls. The Church 
also — "the pillar and ground of the truth," the peculium of 
God— by the same distinguishing mercy, yet remaineth, lin- 
gering as it were, with us, and verifiable, by the same hea- 
venly original, divine authority, and saving purpose, which 
constitute its sacred character. As such, it is presented to 
your consideration this day, my hearers, in a point of view 
in which you may never have regarded it; briefly, it is true: 
yet sufficiently plain to enable every man, with his Bible in 
his hand, to determine the question for himself. And sure 
I am, that this is the only representation of the subject which 
can correct erroneous notions, or confirm those which are 
true; the only ground on which there is any foundation for 
faith to rest upon, any assurance of hope in the revealed 
mercy of God. For I am yet to learn, where a promise of 
God to fallen man is to be found, that is not limited on the 
previous condition, that he be a member of Cheist's visible" 
Church upon earth. 

Having thus given a faint outline of the origin, purpose, 
and importance of the Church, as an appointment of Al- 
mighty God in the gracious plan of our redemption, I will 
make a few remarks on that branch of the true vine which 
has been planted in this portion of the Loed's vineyard. 

Of the early state of the Church in this diocese, the notices 
are so scanty, and my information so limited, that there is 
no safe ground on which to form an estimate of the state of 
religion within our communion, previous to the recent effort 
to revive the cause in the year 1S17. 

The journals of the General Convention, and the lists of 
the clergy in each State therein published, give no notice that 
the Episcopal Church was even known by name in' North 
Carolina. It is nevertheless certain, that the Church was co- 
eval with the establishment of a regular government, and 
had spread the knowledge of her doctrines and liturgy, and 



A SERMON ON THE CHURCH. 99 

formed regular congregations for the worship of God, as far 
west as the middle counties of the State. 

We must, therefore, refer the decline, and almost extin- 
guishment of the Church here, to the same causes which 
operated throughout this vast continent, to-wit: the just judg- 
ment of xllinighty God, on the sins and iniquities of his peo- 
ple. To ascribe the depression of the Church to political 
causes solely, is to reverse the order of His providence who 
over-rules and directs the affairs of the world, to the final 
triumph of his spiritual kingdom. 

The long period, however, during which the people were 
deprived of the services of the sanctuary, could not fail to 
operate injuriously. We gradually forget our dearest friends, 
my brethren, when removed from all intercourse with them. 
"\Ve soon seek to form new connexions, and we cleave to 
them the closer, perhaps, because of previous privation. And 
thus it fared with the Church. Multitudes, who would never 
have deserted the fold, were forced by want and privation 
into strange pastures. Still greater numbers have grown up 
in ignorance of her claims, and even of her existence; while 
the pride of opinion, reluctance to acknowledge an error, and 
the modern fallacies of liberality in religious opinion, and 
equal safety in all religious denominations, keep back many 
who once enjoyed the benefit of her sound and safe minis- 
trations, and bid fair to establish the notion, that no religious 
profession is necessary — thus demonstrating by experience, 
that in proportion as you weaken the vital doctrine of the 
visible unitv of the Church of Christ, by acknowledo;ino; 
communions erected by human authority, you encourage the 
growth of infidelity and impiety. And it requires but a fair 
consideration of the effects which have followed the divisions 
among Christians, and the consequent adoption of liberal 
opinions, to demonstrate the alarming fact, that if the Church 
of God may be found eveiy where, it will soon be sought no 
where. Indifference to religion is the inevitable result of 
such pestilent notions; and this is the sum total of gain from 
this so much boasted system of liberal opinions. 

Yet the arm stretched out upon his inheritance was, and is, 
an arm of mercy. A remnant was left. "Jacob," indeed, 
"was made thin, and the fatness of his flesh became lean;" 



100 A SERMON ON THE CHURCH. 

jet ''gleaning grapes were left in the vineyard, as the shaking 
of an olive tree; two or three berries in the top of the upper- 
most bough." It was a praying remnant, and it pleased God 
to open his ear to hearken. 

For that remnant, then, it is, and for those whom God hath 
added to them, and for the deluded multitudes who are living 
"without God in the world," we are met, in the fear of God, 
I trust, and in the hope of his guidance and direction in our 
counsels, to consult and devise things profitable, prosperous, 
and happy; the things which accompany salvation. Let us 
then inquire, 

Thirdly, by whom shall Jacob arise? 

And by whom, my brethren and friends, can Zion "arise 
and shake herself from the dust, and put on her beautiful 
garments, and become the praise of the whole earth," but by 
that Almighty arm which upholds the universe; by that ever 
living Head, who hath pledged his promise, that "the gates 
of hell shall not prevail against her?" 

On that promise I am built: on that providence I am staid: 
and when I consider the marked interposition of his hand in 
the commencement and progress of this work; when I reflect, 
that by him who inspireth the counsels and ordereth the 
doings of the children of men, I meet you here this day, in 
the station which I fill in his Church, I bend in humble 
adoration before his wonder working power; I rely, with un- 
shaken confidence, in his abiding faithfulness; and give my- 
self to the work, in the firm belief that the set time to favor 
Zion is come. Well may we say, dear brethren, "What hath 
God wrought?" and in contemplation of what he hath already 
done, be strengthened and encouraged to be workers to- 
gether with him, in "building up the waste places of Jerusa- 
lem." I have been among them, my brethren — among the 
earliest records of the piety of our forefathers; and my heart 
yearned over the ancient, and decaying, and now too often 
silent temples. I have been among the ancient Simeons and 
Annas, servants of the Lord, who "take pleasure in the stones, 
and favor even the dust of Zion;" who have prayed and fainted 
not, through a long night of darkness and bereavement; and 
I have seen the smile of transport, and the flush of hope, and 
the fervor of devout and grateful praise, light up their patri- 



A SERMON ON THE CHURCH. 101 

archal countenances as the promise of a brighter day dawned 
upon their children; and I felt that it would not be disappointed. 

In this holy hope, then, let us continually look up to our 
great covenant Head, and ever merciful Redeemer; beseech- 
ing him to inspire our prayers, direct our counsels, and pros- 
per our endeavors, "to the advancement of his glory, the good 
of his Church, the safety, honor, and welfare of his people." 

But while it is by the Lord only, that "Jacob can arise," 
it is by the use of means within our reach — by joining our 
earnest endeavors to our united prayers, that this most de- 
sirable work is to be carried on and effected. 

First, then, because of the highest concernment, let us, my 
brethren, ever bear in mind, from what causes the depression 
and downfall of the Church originally proceeded, and guard 
carefully against a return of the same evil. Throughout the 
whole history of God's dealings with his Church, we may 
see, that the light of his countenance upon his people, or the 
hidings of his face from them; the communication of his favor 
to them, or the infliction of his judgments on them; have ever 
been regulated, according as piety or ungodliness prevailed 
among them. Now, all these things, we are instructed, 
"happened unto them for ensamples, and are written for our 
admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come." 
Happy, then, will it be for us, my brethren and hearers, if 
we take warning by this more recent example and proof, 
that the same order of his providence yet subsists; and keep 
ourselves from the evil way of profession without practice, 
religion without holiness. Many suppose, that in the Epis- 
copal Church a greater laxity is allowed than in other de- 
nominations. But this manifests a total ignorance of all our 
institutions. No countenance is 2"iven or allowed to what is 
sinful; nor can any denomination pretend to greater strict- 
ness, than is required by the Canons and Kubricks of the 
Church. We cannot help it, my brethren, if persons whose 
conduct is a scandal to all Christian profession, will call 
themselves Episcopalians: the discipline of the Church can be 
applied only to those who are known and received as com- 
municants; and by those, compared with any other denomi- 
nation, we fear not to be tested; yet with us, whatever may 
be the case with other professions, we know and confess, that 



102 A SERMON ON THE CHURCH. 

much of the old leaven has to be purged out; and this will we 
do, if God permit. 

To this point, then, nay brethren, let us bend our united 
attention; taking away occasion from those who seek it, and 
wining out the reproach against us; firmly setting our faces 
against all conformity with the world in its ungodliness; and 
withholding our fellowship from all who walk disorder!} 7 . 
This we owe to our own souls, to the honor of God, to the 
credit and advancement of the Church, and to the souls of 
others: we owe it to that forbearing goodness which has once 
more revived us, and in agreement with which onlv, we can 
hope to prosper. 

As holiness is the mark of God's children, we are called to 
holiness, to severance from the world, its idolatrous pursuits, 
its vain and vicious pleasures, in ourselves and in our 
families. ''Wherefore come out from anions; them, and be 
separate, and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive 
you, and be a father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and 
daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. — Having, therefore, 
these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from 
all filthiness of the ilesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in 
the fear of God." 

This is the doctrine of the Episcopal Church; this is the 
practice in the life, which all her precepts inculcate upon her 
members; which her discipline is constructed to enforce, and 
which no endeavors of mine shall be wanting, God being my 
helper, to bring to full effect. And here I am truly thank- 
ful that so many circumstances concur to favor us in this 
essential work. ]So wide spread, inveterate habit of ungod- 
liness, has yet had time to take root among us, and cause 
alarm at the extent of the excision required. Jacob, indeed, 
is small, but he is young also, and comparatively free from 
the great transgression. Be it our care, then, one and all, 
dear brethren, that as he increases in stature, he may "grow in 
grace," and "increase" also - "in favor both with God and man." 
"Whatever reproach of this nature is brought against our 
communion as yet, is brought from a distance, and there let 
us resolve that it shall remain; whatever is now to perform 
of the painful duty of reproof and correction, is comparatively 
light; and (blessed be God for it) there is no diversity of 



A SEKMON ON THE CHURCH. 103 

opinion among those who have the care of the flock. United 
in this, as in all other points which concern the peace and 
prosperity of our Zion, we may humbly trust to build up those' 
committed to our charge, "an holy temple unto the Lord." 

Secondly, that "Jacob may arise" as Jacob, it is essential 
that the doctrines and worship prescribed in the articles and 
liturgy of the Church, be faithfully preached and adhered to 
by all of her communion. 

On you, my brethren of the clergy, depend the hopes of 
the Church in this diocese, for this means of resuscitation. 
This precious deposit she has committed to your fidelity, and 
at your hands does she require that it be exercised for the 
increase of the body. 

And here again I have to bless God, that "the lines are 
fallen to me in pleasant places' 1 — that however small the 
number, it is a little phalanx of men sound in faith, and 
united with me in one mind, and in one doctrine; that on no 
point is there such a division of sentiment as leads to a di- 
versity of practice; but all can go hand in hand to the object 
before us; that however feeble in the eyes of the world, it is 
a band of brothers, who have themselves experienced the 
power and efficacy of the truths they preach — who know and 
feel that they are "the power of God unto salvation," and are 
therefore able to teach others also — who admire and love the 
scriptural simplicity, devotional sublimity, and doctrinal se- 
curity, of that form of. sound words, in which they lead the 
public worship of the sanctuary — who know that the liturgy 
of the Church is the great bulwark of "the faith once com- 
mitted to the saints;" the tried safeguard against the heresies 
of the day, of all who use it with the understanding and the 
affections. 

Tli us favored of God, my burden, dear brethren, is com- 
paratively light — while my hope is animated, that with such, 
workmen, the edifice will arise, beautiful in its proportions, 
resplendent in holiness, and "the praise of the whole earth." 

The foundation on which it rests, is "the rock Christ,' ; con- 
fessed, and believed on, as "God over all, blessed for ever" 
— "who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from 
Leaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin 
]\[ary, and was made man, and was crucified also for us, 



104 A SERMON ON THE CHURCH. 

under Pontius Pilate." The beauty of its proportions con- 
sists in the harmony of that unsearchable wisdom — whereby 
"mere}' and truth are met together, righteousness and peace 
have kissed each other" — in the unspeakable mystery of God 
made sin, that man might "be made the righteousness of 
God in him." And the splendor of its embellishment, in the 
union of all its members, in the "faith which worketh by 
love," the "hope which maketh not ashamed," and the 
"charity which never faileth." 

This is the blessed fruit of the doctrine of the Gospel, and 
of the Church, "truly preached, truly received, and truly 
followed." The mystery of godliness, that "God was mani- 
fest in the flesh, justified in the spirit, seen of angels, preach- 
ed unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up 
into glory," is the "new sharp threshing instrument" pre- 
dicted by the prophet, wherewith to break down the kingdom 
of sin, Satan, and death. "Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and 
ye men of Israel, I will keep thee, saith the Lord, and thy 
Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. Behold I will make thee 
a new sharp threshing instrument, having teeth. Thou shalt 
thresh the mountains, and beat them small, and shalt make 
the hills as chaff. Thou shalt fan them, and the wind shall 
carry them away, and the whirlwind shall scatter them; and 
thou shalt rejoice in the Lord, and shalt glory in the Ltoly 
One of Israel." 

On the doctrines of the cross, then, as you have taken, 
maintain your stand, my reverend brethren. Preach them 
in the simplicity and sincerity of hearts that feel them, with 
the earnestness of men who wish to save their own souls, and 
the souls of others. The entire spiritual death, and alienation 
of man from God, by the entertainment of sin; the recon- 
ciliation of God to the world, by the sufferings and death of 
his only begotten Son; the atonement of his blood; justifica- 
tion by faith; acceptance through the merits of the Saviour; 
conversion of the heart to God; holiness of life, the only evi- 
dence of it; and the grace of God, in the renewal of the Holy 
Ghost, the sole agent from first to last, in working out our 
salvation from sin here, and from hell hereafter. In fewer 
words, "salvation by grace, through faith, not of works, lest 
any man should boast." 



A SERMON ON THE CHURCH. 105 

But with these vital and heaven-blessed doctrines, other 
points of edification to those of your charge, and to your gen- 
eral hearers, will require your attention, my reverend bro- 
thers; particularly that of the distinctive character of the 
Church. On this, a most lamentable ignorance prevails, and 
most unfounded opinions are becoming established, not only 
among Episcopalians, but at large. To permit this ignorance 
to continue undisturbed, is to be false to our ordination vows, 
to our acknowledged principles, to the interests of our com- 
munion, and to the souls committed to our care; aud however 
amiable in appearance the principle on which we act may 
be, reflection shows it to be a mistaken one, and experience 
proves it to have been injurious. If we hold principles that 
are indefensible, let us abandon them. But if they are our 
principles, interwoven into the very frame of our polity, im- 
pregnable in their truth, and essential in the great work we 
have in hand; let us not appear ashamed of them, or weakly 
afraid of the consequences, and thus become parties to that 
miserable delusion, which weakens us as a body, strengthens 
the ranks of our adversaries, and, I will fearlessly say, weak- 
ens the cause of true religion, by tacitly owning one division 
after another, until the great master principle of the Church of 
God, its unity, is merged in the mass of Christian names, and 
swallowed up by the indifference and infidelity thus fostered. 

If, then, we would be found faithful to ourselves, to the 
Church whose commission we bear, and to the souls commit- 
ted to our trust; this doctrine of the distinctive character of 
the Church must be fully unfolded, and laid before our peo- 
ple. Their attention must be called to it, on the grounds of 
scriptural reason. The purpose of this wise and merciful 
appointment of Almighty God, in the salvation of sinners, 
must be dwelt upon and enforced, by all those weighty argu- 
ments and authorities which the word of God so richly sup- 
plies. The importance and efficacy of authorized ministra- 
tions — of valid sacraments, — must be elucidated and con- 
firmed, by the analogies which govern men in temporary 
things, and by the method so demonstrably resorted t<> by 
God himself, both under the law and under the gospel; to 
give certainty and assurance to men in things so unspeaka- 
bly important. These are the points to be presented t<> our 



106 A SEEMON ON THE CHURCH. 

people, to be pressed upon the understandings and the 
feelings of our hearers, in connexion with the other doctrines 
of the gospel — that they may learn to estimate aright their 
privileges; and valuing, to cleave to them. 

Thirdly, that "Jacob may arise" in his true character, a 
steadfast and uniform adherence to the liturgy and offices of 
the Church, as set forth in the book of Common Prayer and 
Administration of the Sacraments, must be observed. 

In this duty it is m} T happiness to believe that you, my 
reverend brethren, are found faithful. As honest men, inde- 
pendent of your Christian character, I could expect no less. 
But in this lib'eral and latitudinarian age, this duty is some- 
times rendered painful, by the wish to yield in some degree 
to the prejudices of a mixed congregation; and by the hope 
that conforming in this respect, they may be won over. In 
aid of this dereliction of duty, the points objected are artfully 
represented as things indifferent in themselves, and therefore, 
to be yielded in fayor of Christian fellowship. All this, 
however, is mere pretence; for, if they are points really indif- 
ferent, the fault must ever be with those who on such grounds 
separate themselves from what never can be viewed with in- 
difference by any serious person. And whatever pretences 
may be urged, they are all fallacious, and proved to be so by 
experience. For whatever the principle of accommodation 
may be capable of in others, it has ever failed in points of 
religious dissent; and I am yet to learn, in what instances the 
surrender of principles, or even of distinctive points, has pro- 
fited those who have tried the dangerous experiment. My 
brethren, the attempt has ever been in vain, and has issued 
in weakening and degrading those who have resorted to it; 
and the reason is obvious: principles, religious principles es- 
pecially, are presumed to be well considered — adopted as the 
best, and on the highestauthority. To hold them, then, as 
things that may be dispensed 'with, may be accommodated, 
may lie yielded, is viewed as the mark of a weak or an in- 
sincere mind. 

To net upon this expectation, then, is to court defeat, while 
it is at the same time to expose ourselves to contempt, as men 
of lax principles, and designing conduct; — a stigma of all 
others the most severe upon a minister of religion; who, in 
common with all Christians, but in a higher degree, ought to 



A SERMON ON THE CHURCH. 107 

"have his conversation in the world, in simplicity, and godly 
sincerity." And what has been the effect of such a course, 
in the trials that have unhappily been made by Episcopal 
clergymen? Has our communion gained or lost by it? Where 
is the addition obtained by this surrender of private and pub- 
lic principle? It has lost, my reverend and lay brethren, by 
this Judas-like method of betraying it into the hands of its 
enemies, with a kiss. 

And what have the individuals, who have thus acted, 
gained by it? They have gained the name, perhaps, of lib- 
eral and charitable; and have lost the esteem of all sound 
churchmen; while they have not gained the confidence of 
those, who, nevertheless, flattered their enlarged views of 
Christian liberty, and evangelical piety; because, in the midst 
of this flattery, they are obliged to view them as false to the 
most solemn pledges that can be given of sincerity of opin- 
ion, and integrity of practice. 

In all such cases, the question with an Episcopal clergy- 
man is not, whether our general principles, or our method of 
conducting public worship by a fixed form, be scriptural, 
profitable, or even evangelical; this ought to have been set- 
tled on the most serious investigation, before he assumes the 
orders of the Church. Whatever discretion he had as to this 
and other points of required conformity, is then given up; nor 
can he continue to wear the livery of the Church, and thus 
act, without the guilt of the most sublimated perjury. 

Alas! that it should be necessary to warn against the influ- 
ence of such an example elsewhere. But as the evil exists, 
and this view of the subject includes every plea for noncon- 
formity to the doctrines and worship of the Protestant Epis- 
copal Church in the United States, I think it due to you, and 
to the sincerity •with which I am bound to act, to show dis- 
tinctly, at the commencement of my administration, the prin- 
ciples by which I am guided. 

Fourthly, for the increase and advancement of true godli- 
ness, let me recommend the observance and cultivation of 
family religion. 

Without this root and spring, under God, of "all holy de- 
sires, all good counsels, and all just works," hope is vain for 
the Church and the State; we shall sink into a nation of infi- 
dels. 



108 A SERMON ON THE CHURCH. 

That the practice has declined in the families of professing 
Christians; that it is abandoned in all others, is known by all 
who hear me at this moment. And that the consequences 
are the bitter fruit of increasing crime and profaneness, is 
recorded in every court, and witnessed by every Sabbath. 

But, my brethren and hearers, could this be so, were the 
principles of our holy religion early and carefully instilled 
into the minds of the rising hope of this great and growing 
Christian nation? Were the fear of God, and the reverence 
of his most holy name, and the observance of his worship, 
and the knowledge of his life-giving precepts, inculcated and 
manifested in our families, would so little of it be seen in the 
world? Awake, then, from this torpor, ye Christian fathers 
and mothers — from this deadly delusion of adulterated reli- 
gion, which is so fast swallowing up the dearest hope you 
can entertain of a happy eternity, with those who are dearest 
to you here. Trample under your feet those pestilent doc- 
trines which inevitably lead to this criminal neglect, by con- 
fiding the hope, and by necessary consequence, the duties of 
the gospel, to a chosen few. Arise to the blessed assurance 
of God's public message by his only begotten Son — u that he 
hath not appointed you or them to wrath, but to obtain sal- 
vation by our Lord Jesus Christ; — who, by the grace of 
God, tasted death for every man." Believe this, his true and 
faithful word, against all the sophistry of men; diligently use 
and apply the means provided by the wisdom and goodness 
of God, for your advancement in knowledge, and growth in 
grace; and no longer suffer your children to grow up like the 
wild ass's colt, alike ignorant of God and of themselves, of 
the word of his grace, of his Sabbaths, his ordinances, his 
mercies, his judgments*, and that eternity, in which all these 
end, and where you and they must meet, to enjoy or to suffer 
for ever, according to the improvement or abuse here, of the 
talents committed to your trust. 

Oh! it is an awakening thought to contemplate a family, 
godless, under the gospel, assembled before the judgment 
seat of Christ, and to carry out the consequence to the mis- 
ery that awaits them; and that misery doubled by the near 
and dear ties which connect them; hell made hotter by the 
endless reproach — we neglected our children's souls — my 



A SERMON ON THE CHURCH. 109 

father and mother hardened me against God — they trained 
me to perdition. 

Oh! it is a heart-cheering, soul-enlivening vision, to go in 
the mind's meditation, with the faithful father and mother, 
to the same awful tribunal, and see the holy confidence with 
which they stand and say — "Behold us Lord, and the chil- 
dren thou hast given us." We have taught them thy fear; 
and by thy grace kept them in the way; we surrender them 
to thy mercy, through thy dear Son. "Well done, good and 
faithful servants, ye have been faithful in a few things, enter 
ye into the joy of your Lord." But who can spe«ak that joy, 
when all the dear ties of nature in this life shall be refined, 
purified and perpetuated in glory; when conjugal, parental, 
and filial love, shall be swallowed up, but not lost, in the 
love and enjoyment of God for ever? 

And is this, dear brethren, a result in the one case to be 
shunned as destruction; in the other to be desired as life? O, 
if it be! — (and what Christian parent does not feel that it is 
all this?) — let the plain and certain road to the attainment of 
this blessedness be pursued by all. Discard for ever, my 
brethren and hearers, this murderous neglect of the souls of 
your children and servants; and as you are able, call them 
round the family altar, and invoke the blessing, the promised 
blessing of God, upon your holy purpose: restrain them from 
all violations of the Lord's day; cultivate his fear in their 
hearts; and show, by the example of your lives, that you fear 
his name, and hope in his mercy. 

Especially upon you, my Episcopal brethren, is this pri- 
mary duty enforced, by every principle you profess, by every 
obligation that can be undertaken, and by every sanction 
known to time and to eternity. Your baptismal sponsion for 
your children involves it, by the solemn stipulations then en- 
tered into; and the promises of God therein sealed to them 
is your full and sufficient warrant to engage in this fruitful 
work, with assurance of success. Let, then, the inscriptions 
on your dwellings be, "As for me and my house, we will 
serve the Lord." To this source of supply the Church looks, 
for the enlargement of her border, the extension of her com- 
munion — for the spread of the gospel, and its triumph over 
all its enemies. 
And to what other source can we reasonably look, my 



110 • A SERMON ON THE CHUKCII. 

brethren, not only for the advancement, but for the continu- 
ance of religion among us? Let us ask ourselves, and reflect 
seriously upon it — what proportion do the conversions, which 
we occasionally hear of, bear to the numbers annually com- 
ing into and going out of life? In this State, do. they amount 
to five hundred in the year — to one for every thousand of its 
population? I know not; but I doubt it. But say they amount 
to five times this number, and are all sound conversions of 
the heart to God — what is this to the annual drain by death, 
of souls dead to God, unprepared for eternity? What to the 
multitudes "who know not God, and obey not the gospel of 
our Lord Jesus Cueist;" who have grown up without him, 
and must in all probability die without him? What is this 
to the thousands coming forward into life, the hope of days 
to come, equally unfurnished? O, let the alarming calcula- 
tion startle us from this delusion of double death, and 
convert us from dependence on the extraordinary, to the 
serious use of the ordinary means which God has provided, 
commanded, and promised to bless, in "training up our chil- 
dren in the nurture and admonition of the Lokd;" that his 
converting grace may change their hearts, transform their 
lives, and enrich the Church and the world with sound and 
instructed believers, serious and experienced Christians, and 
firm professors of the hope of the gospel. Thus, and thus 
only, shall the objections of the infidel be done away; the 
vain reasonings of the disputer of this, world be answered and 
refuted; and the means corresponding with the end, and the 
fruit crowning the work, make all men. see, that "God is with 
us of a truth." Thus "adornino- the doctrine of God our Sa- 
viour," by the union of profession and practice, "Jacob shall 
arise," and his light shine. Thus shall "his seed possess the 
gate of his enemies, and the Lord whom we seek shall sud- 
denly come to his temple, and the glory of this latter house 
shall be greater than the former, saith the Lord of Hosts." 

Lastly. — Our pecuniary means must be reserved for the 
wants of our own communion. 

This is so plain and obvious a duty, that at first sight it 
would appear superfluous to mention it; yet certain it is, that 
in this respect Episcopalians have manifested an easiness in 
viehling to the solicitations of other denominations, which 
can be justified on no sound principle of regard for the Church, 



A SERMON ON THE CHUECH. Ill 

or feeling sense of the wants and privations of their im- 
mediate brethren; and the time I think is come, when it is 
absolutely necessary to act differently. "Jacob is small.'" 
and he must continue so, if his patrimony is squandered upon 
strangers. It is the dictate of inspired wisdom, my brethren, 
"that if any provide not for his own, especially those of his 
own house — he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an 
infidel." This rule, both of reason and religion, will apply 
in the closest manner to the present condition of the Church 
in this diocese, and to the present duty of all the members 
and friends of our communion, and should regulate and re- 
strain the indiscriminate expenditure of .her means, for pur- 
poses which, if not hostile, are certainly unprofitable. 

If I could paint to you, as vividly as I have witnessed and 
now feel, the destitute condition of our brethren — men asree- 
ing in faith, doctrine, and worship with ourselves — and the 
general call there is, "come over and help us;" the necessity 
as well as propriety, in the truest religious sense, of adopting 
and acting henceforth upon this principle, would need no en- 
forcement from me. Your hearts would feel for 'congrega- 
tions destitute of ministers and ordinances; Jacob's feeble 
hands would not be lifted up in vain; the Church of your 
fathers and of your affections would no longer be dry nursed, 
to succor her opponents; but all would be united for one ob- 
ject, and your bounty flow in one enriching stream of nourish- 
ment, growth, and strength to our Zion. Oh! if I had but 
the thousands, which have heretofore been drawn away from 
her exigencies, how easily would all our wants of this kind 
be supplied. It is gone, however, and regret will not bring 
it back. But if it shall teach us to adopt and adhere to a 
different course for the time to come, it will so far be a gain, 
and there is yet enough left in the piety, and affection, and 
affluence of the Episcopal body in this diocese, to meet all 
our reasonable demands. All that is required, is to act 
upon principle, by system. 

Much will be said against this my advice to you, my 
brethren, and I doubt not it will be called illiberal, un- 
charitable, perhaps unchristian. But by whom will such 
truly unchristian terms be applied to it? By those only, 
whose interest it is that you should not discriminate. By 
those, who act themselves, as a body, and rigidly too. 



112 A SERMON ON THE CHURCH. 

upon this very principle — who have drawn largely on the 
easiness, or indifference of your liberality; but have never 
returned a cent for the dollar, to our wants, and never will; 
or by those who cloak real disregard to all religion, under 
the motley mask of equal regard for all denominations. Re- 
gard them not, therefore, my brethren; but strong in the 
soundness of the principle, and the obligation of the dxitj, as 
Christians and Churchmen, reserve what you have to spare 
in the service of religion, for the wants of your own com- 
munion. That certainly has the first and highest claim upon 
your ability, upon your bounty; a claim which no sophistry 
can invalidate — which no mistaken views of liberality and 
charity towards the opinions or the practices of others, should 
either weaken or defeat. 

According, then, as the distinctive character of the Church is 
understood in its principles, applied in the use, and regarded in 
the hearts of its members, will it be cherished and will flourish. 
According as the walk and conversation in the world of those 
who call themselves Episcopalians, shall be "as becometh the 
gospel of'CiiRiST," will its high, because heaven-descended 
claims, be owned, acknowledged, and acted upon, in the re- 
generation of a fallen world; and according as we show, that it 
is all this in our estimation, my clerical and lay brethren, by 
the zeal and earnestness with which we unite and persevere 
in the work we have in hand, "will Jacob arise — will a little 
one become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation." 

To this work you have called me; to this work the Loud 
through you hath devoted me; and to your service, such as I 
am, I give myself without reserve. Accept, then, the first 
fruits of the deep concern I feel for your advancement; of the 
observation and experience I have had opportunity for, and 
of that sacred regard for your present and eternal welfare, 
which occupies my thoughts, my prayers, my labors. And 
may He that "holdeth the seven stars in his right hand," who 
"walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks," be 
with us in all our undertakings, to bless and prosper us in 
"building up the old waste places; in raising up the foundations 
of many generations; that we may indeed be called the re- 
pairer of the breach, the restorer of paths to dwell in." 

Now unto Him, &c. 



A SERMON ON THE CHRISTIAN MINISTRY, 

DELIVERED IN 

ST. PETER'S CHURCH, WASHINGTON, 

Sunday, April 24, 1825, 

at the ordination of the 

REV. JOSEPH PIERSON AS PRIEST, AND OF THE REV. C. C. 
RRAINERD AS DEACON. 



John xx. 21. 

"As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you." 

"The baptism of John, whence was it? From heaven, or 
of men?" was the answer made by our blessed Lord to the 
Jews, who inquired into the authority of his ministry. And 
in the effect it produced upon them, we learn, my brethren 
and hearers, to estimate the power of prejudice upon the 
human mind, by seeing it able to resist at once the evidence 
of sense and the conviction of reason. We learn, also, from 
this example, that the excuses we are apt to make for error, 
from the influence of established habits of thought and action, 
are not always — perhaps we may safely say, are rarely — of 
that justifiable character we would willingly persuade our- 
selves; there being something in the very sound of truth, 
especially divine truth, to alarm the prejudice that is opposed 
to it — to set it instantly at work to provide a defence, and, 
by this very effort, (would we permit it thus to re-act,) to con- 
vince us of the fallacy and folly of such a sacrifice to pride. 
In the case before us, we have a pregnant instance, how 
readily truth, even when indirectly proposed, will flash upon 
its object — how equally quick its bearing will be seen, and, 
when there is no other escape, how prejudice will resist it, 
even at the extra expense of a falsehood. Hence we learn, 
my friends, of what great importance a fair mind is to the 
attainment of truth generally; and, also, how this qualification 
is enhanced by the unspeakable value of religious truth. But 
in this, alas! it is, that our prejudices are both most numerous 
and most powerful. 
[Vol. l,— *8.] 



114 A SERMON ON" THE CHRISTIAN MINISTRY. 

Yet is there no necessity that it should be so, my hearers. 
Prejudice, in a great degree at least, is voluntary, and, after 
all the allowances which can be asked for the influence of 
education, and other circumstances of a like nature, there is 
provision made to counteract its sway over the mind, did we 
faithfully and humbly seek the truth in its great Author, and 
not in the systems and inventions of men. In our religious 
concerns especially — the care of our souls, — is this a para- 
mount duty; and, as we are fully provided for it, by the wis- 
dom and goodness of Almighty God, and furnished with the 
law of faith and life in his holy word, there can be no excuse, 
either for the neglect or perversion of the Scriptures, whicb, 
as men, we can apply with confidence, either to ourselves or 
others. What may be in reserve for such cases, in the equity 
and mercy of our omniscient Judge, as he has not seen fit to 
reveal, so we can say nothing, unless to warn against specu- 
lations into the secret things of God, or against remaining, 
satisfied with a dependence which rests for its foundation, 
rather on our own vain reasonings, than on the declared 
counsel of his revealed will. 

It is not, however, to evidence the power of prejudice over 
the mind, that I have noticed this awakening answer of our 
Lord to the chief priests and elders of the Jews. By trans- 
posing the question contained in the answer, and applying it 
to the gospel, we obtain the governing principle which per- 
vades- every advance in religion, and is alone competent to 
arrest the power of prejudice, and give solid comfort to the 
soul, in the awful interests of eternity. 

The gospel of Christ, whence is it? From heaven, or of 
men? Now, while there will be but one answer to this ques- 
tion, from this assembly of Christian people, to many, it is 
to be feared, were it pressed home, it would be equally em- 
barrassing as the original question to the Jews. If we shall 
say, from heaven, — may be the musing of some minds present, 
— we are met by the unanswerable inquiry, Why, then, do 
you not believe and profess it? But, if we shall say, it is of 
men, a mere human production, we rank at once with in- 
fidels. And why not, my hearers? Where else can you, or 
would you, rank, seeing there is no middle ground on which 
you can take your stand? In the sight of God, and in the 



A SEKMON ON THE CHRISTIAN MINISTRY. 115 

judgment of right reason, there is no medium between re- 
ceiving unqualifiedly, and rejecting absolutely, his public 
message to the world, by his only begotten Son. No man 
can be, at the same time, both a believer and an unbeliever. 
"He that believeth not, is condemned already. — He that is 
not for me, is against me." This is an awakening thought, 
and I pray God it may be sanctified to those whose con- 
dition it meets. 

But it is not only to the gospel as a whole, that this inquiry 
is applicable. Every particular doctrine, every prescribed 
ordinance, every point of instituted order, with every per- 
sonal duty as Christians — all rest, for their sacredness to us, 
on the governing principle, Is it from heaven, or of men? 
No conceivable fitness, or reasonableness, or expediency, or 
accommodation to external circumstances, can be allowed to 
supersede the fixed, unchangeable nature of what God hath 
appointed. And the reason is obvious: as it proceeded from 
God, no human power or wisdom can intermeddle without 
impiety. As faith can rest only on the authority of God, and 
that authority capable of being verified; as faith constitutes 
the essence of every religious act; the foundation on which 
it is built must be fixed and unchangeable as God himself. 

These positions, which, it appears to me, my brethren and 
hearers, cannot be controverted with any show of reason or 
Scripture* authority, prepare the way for that improvement 
of the words of my text, which I propose to make of them; 
and, as they directly refer to the Ministerial Commission 
under the gospel, furnish a subject of general as well as par- 
ticular edification, not so frequently presented to the con- 
sideration of professing Christians, as, from its great impor- 
tance, it deserves to be; and on which there is as much 
erroneous and unsettled opinion as upon any other doctrines 
of the Christian revelation. And my apology, if apology 
can be needed, is to be sought and found in this fact, and in 
the particular duty now before me. 

And here, my friends, I must take leave to enter my pub- 
lic protest, in behalf of the Church, against the unjust and. 
ungenerous denial to us of what is so fully conceded to other 
denominations, and very freely exercised — the privilege Of 
presenting, and pressing upon their members, the distinctive 



116 A SERMON ON THE CHRISTIAN MINISTRY. 

tenets of their several creeds. In this respect, we claim to 
stand upon that ground which is equally the privilege of all 
in this free and happy land; nor do we wish to stand upon 
any other or higher ground than is clue to the soundness of 
our doctrine and principles; to their agreement with Scriptu- 
ral truth and* order; and to their tendency to promote and 
ensure the three great blessings of civil liberty, social hap- 
piness, and pure and undefiled religion. If any represent us 
otherwise, we only say, that we sincerely pity their ignorance 
or malevolence, and heartily beg of God to give them re- 
pentance, and better minds. 

I now proceed to the consideration of the words of my text, 
"As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you." 

That these words refer to the ministerial commission, is 
clear, from the context, and from the parallel passages of 
Scripture. According to the testimony of St. John, they 
were uttered by our Lord after his resurrection,' and on the 
evening of that day, at his first appearance to the eleven. 
And what farther took j)lace at that time, puts beyond dis- 
pute our Lord's intention: "And when he had said this, [the 
words of my text,] he breathed on them, and saith unto them, 
Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whosesoever sins ye remit, they 
are remitted unto them; and whosesoever sins ye retain, they 
are retained." 

This application of the words of the text is further con- 
firmed by the parallel passages in the other gospels. In St. 
Luke's gospel the same commission is conferred in these 
words: "And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father 
hath appointed unto me." In St. Matthew's gospel, the 
ground of the authority to send, or appoint, and the com- 
mission itself, are thus expressed: "And Jesus came and 
spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me, in 
heaven and in earth. Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, 
"baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, 
and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things, 
whatsoever I have commanded you." And according to St. 
Mark, the commission is the same as in St. Matthew, with a 
slight variation of the phraseology: "And he said unto them, 
Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every 
creature. He that believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved; 
l-ut he that believeth not, shall be damned." 



A SERMON ON THE CHRISTIAN MINISTRY. 



117 



In addition to this, it may be helpful to state, that this 
commission was addressed exclusively to the eleven. Neither 
the hundred and twenty disciples, mentioned in the first 
chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, who followed our Lord 
during the latter part of his personal ministry, nor the five 
hundred brethren, who saw him alive after his passion, as 
St. Paul assures us, are included in it, as is abundantly evi- 
dent from the historical part of the New'Testament. 

To form a just estimate, therefore, of this very important 
subject, it will be necessary to consider, 

First, The nature and extent of our Lord's own commis- 
sion, as the Messenger, the Apostle, of God the Father, to a 
sin-ruined, but redeemed world. 

Secondly, The connexion, or parallel, between this and 
the commission conferred on the Apostles, as the messengers 
of Christ to the same world. 

Thirdly, The continuance of this commission in the world. 
Fourthly, The object or purpose of a divinely authorized 
ministry, in the Church, or Kingdom of Christ. 

And then conclude with such practical inferences from the 
whole, as shall be suitable to the solemn duty we have this 
day to perform. 

"As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you." 
I. First, to consider the nature and extent of our Lord's 
own commission, as the Messenger, the Apostle, of God the 
Father, to a sin-ruined, but redeemed world. 

To avoid confusion of mind, and, of course, error of judg- 
ment, by blending distinct and separate things in one view, 
it is necessary to confine our consideration to that part of our 
Saviour's office which could be transferred. 

In what pertains to the inherent divinity of his nature, as 
he received no commission, so there was none to be con- 
tinued. In his merciful undertaking to suffer the penalty of 
sin, by tasting "death for every man," there could be no 
transfer. It is therefore to the administration of that king- 
dom which the Father hath appointed unto him, as the Son 
of Man, that we are to direct our attention, on the point under 
consideration; indeed, to bear constantly in mind, my breth- 
ren, that, as it was by the assuming of the human nature into 
union with the divine, by the Son of God, that the purposes 



US A SERMON ON THE CHRISTIAN MINISTRY. 

of Heaven's mercy to man were to be accomplished — so the 
whole economy and management of the gospel dispensation 
is committed to the Lord Jestis Christ, in this his assumed 
character; in which, for an appointed period, he stands in 
equal relation to God and man, and thus competent to meet 
the claims of the one, and the necessities of the other. And 
were this duly attended to, my hearers, there would be less 
difficulty in detecting the vain reasonings of those who, from 
the mystery of his incarnation, and the necessary reference 
to both natures, in the language of Scripture, dispute and 
deny his essential divinity. 

To obtain this kingdom, however — this intermediate dis- 
pensation, rendered necessary! by the entrance of sin into the 
world, — conditions were to be performed. The oblation of 
himself, therefore, to the justice of God, by our Redeemer, 
was to precede his assumption of the kingly office, and was, 
in fact, the price paid for his exaltation to that kingdom, "in 
which," says St. Paul, "he rules as a son in his own house." 
Hence he is said to have "purchased a Church with his own 
blood;" to have "bought us" (the subjects of this his kingdom) 
"with a price." It was, therefore, subsequent to his resur- 
rection, that his exaltation as the Son of Man commenced; it 
was then that lie received the kingdom appointed unto him 
of his Father; and it was then that he commenced the exer- 
cise of his authority, by commissioning his apostles for its es- 
tablishment and government in the world. 
. In this view of the subject, my brethren, we shall find the 
question simplified, freed from many difficulties which other- 
wise attend it, consistent with all that is said in Scripture 
concerning it, and profitable to correct some prominent errors 
which prevail on the subject of the Christian ministry. 

Our Lord's own commission, then, as the messenger (the 
apostle) of God the Father, of a sin-ruined, but redeemed 
world, is derivative in its nature. Hence St Paul, discours- 
ing of our Lord's priestly office, in the Epistle to the He- 
brews, speaks in this wise: "And no man taketh this honor 
unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron. So, 
also, Christ glorified not himself to be made an High Priest; 
but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to-day have I 
begotten thee. As he saith also in another place, Thou art 



A SERMON ON THE CHRISTIAN MINISTRY. 119 

a Priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek." And again 
it is repeated, with the same reference to the Old Testament 
priesthood, "For the law maketh men High Priests, which 
have infirmity, but the word of the oath, which was since the 
law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated fore vermore." That 
it is derivative in its nature, we learn further from the cir- 
cumstance of its being limited in duration of time. This St. 
Paul also informs us of, in his first Epistle to the Corinthians, 
"Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the 
kingdom to God, even the Father; and when all things shall 
be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also be subject unto 
him that did put all things under him, that God may be all 
in all." 

The extent of our Lord's commission embraces whatever is 
needful to the fulfilment of the purpose he has undertaken. 
Within this it is unlimited and omnipotent; beyond this it 
does not reach. 

Thus, we read in the Epistle to. the Ephesians, that "God 
hath set him at his own right hand, in the heavenly places, 
far above all principality, and power, and might, and do- 
minion; and every name that is named, not only in this 
world, but also in that which is to come, and hath put all things 
under his feet, and gave him to be head over all things to the 
Church." And St. Peter tells us, that "angels, and authorities, 
and powers, are made subject unto him." And St. Paul again, 
in his Epistle to the Philippians, lays down the same doc- 
trine: "Wherefore," says he, that is, because Christ became 
obedient to the death of the cross, "wherefore, God also hath 
highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above 
every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should 
bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things 
under the earth, and that every tongue should confess, that 
Jesus CnRisT is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." 

These Scriptures, with many others to the same amount, 
which might be produced out of both the Testaments, declare 
sufficiently, though in general terms, the extent and impor- 
tance of that office which the Lord Jesus Christ sustains, in 
the economy of man's redemption and salvation. It is by the 
particulars, however, that we shall best discern its practical 
use to ourselves. And these consist in his Prophetic, Priestly, 
and Regal offices,, 



120 A SERMON ON THE CHRISTIAN MINISTRY. 

As the Prophet or Teacher of his Church, he was commis- 
sioned to make a full disclosure of the will of God to the 
world. And this he has done, partly by his own preaching, 
but more fully by the revelation made through the prophets 
and apostles, in the Old and New Testaments, which contain 
all things necessary to be known, believed, and done, by 
men, in order to secure their eternal salvation. 

As the great High Priest of our profession, "He has passed 
into the heavens, there to appear in the presence of God for 
us:" to present the prayers and praises of his people, whether 
public or private, purified from their imperfection by the 
merit of his name, and rendered acceptable to God the Father, 
by the prevailing intercession of God the Son. 

In his regal office, he exercises all power in heaven and in 
earth, with reference to his Church. He rules it by his laws, 
and appoints his servants to their several stations; he defends 
it by his power; sustains it by his providence; directs it by 
his wisdom; extends it by his word; sanctifies it by his Spirit; 
and, when the number of his elect shall be accomplished, 
will judge it in righteousness, according to the word spoken 
unto it in the gospel, and reward or punish everlastingly, ac- 
cording as every man's work shall be. And for this great 
and awful purpose, his commission extends to raising the 
dead. "Verily, verily, I say unto you, the hour is coming, 
and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of 
God, and they that hear shall live. For, as the Father hath 
life in himself, so hath he given to the Son to have life in 
himself, and hath given him authority to execute judgment 
also, because he is the Son of man. Marvel not at this, for 
the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves 
shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done 
good, unto the resurrection of life, and they that have done 
evil, unto the resurrection of damnation." 

In the extent of its operation, our Lord's commission in- 
cludes the Church triumphant, as well as the Church mili- 
tant — the Church in heaven, as well as the Church on earth, 
Beino; the same bodv, of which he is the living Head, thev 
are both under his jurisdiction; and, as the purpose of the 
Church upon earth is to prepare members for the Church in 
heaven, to this end all its laws, and orders, and worship, and 



A SERMON ON THE CHRISTIAN MINISTRY. 121 

appointments, are directed. All have a close connexion with 
the moral and spiritual condition of his people, and are cal- 
culated to sustain faith, and defeat sin, and increase holiness. 
And as our Lord's undertaking for mankind embraced the 
whole human family, so does his commission include the 
boundary of this world in this operation. "Ask of me," says 
the Almighty, through his prophet, in the 2d Psalm. u Ask 
of me, and I shall give thee the Heathen for thine inherit- 
ance, and the uttermost parts of the earth fur thy possession.' 

From all which we learn, my brethren and hearers, that 
the Lord Jesus Christ, by the appointment of God the Fa- 
ther, is, to his Church, the source of all wisdom, in the know- 
ledge of divine things; the ground of all hope, in the inter- 
cession of his priestly character; and the root or foundation 
of all authority for administering the affairs of this his king- 
dom, by virtue of the supreme dominion of his regal office. 
And if to these we add, my brethren, all that he is to us, in 
the full splendor of his mediatorial character, well may we 
exclaim, "What hath God wrought!" and learn to realize the 
depth and importance of his affectionate admonition, "with- 
out me ye can do nothing." 

II. Secondly, I am to consider the connexion, or parallel, 
between this and the commission conferred on the apostles, 
as the messengers of Christ Jesus to the same world of 
sinners. 

And here, my brethren, the more we examine into this 
subject, according to the limitation already laid down, the 
more satisfied we shall be of the exactness of the parallel, 
and of the importance of a right view of it, to the full com- 
fort of our religious condition, as redeemed by the blood of 
Christ, and called to this state of salvation by the Gospel. 

First, then, as our Lord Jesus Christ derived his commis- 
sion and authority immediately from God the Father, so did 
the apostles derive theirs immediately from the Lord Jesus 
Christ: "This is my beloved Son, hear ye him," said the 
voice from heaven. "And I appoint unto you a kingdom, 
as my Father hath appointed unto me." 

Next, as the man Christ Jesus was visibly anointed with 
the Holy Ghost, and with power from on high, previous to 
commencing his ministerial office, so were his apostles bap- 



122 A SERMON ON THE CHRISTIAN MINISTRY. 

tized with the Holt Ghost on the day of Pentecost, from 
their ascended and glorified Master, according to his promise. 
"Ye shall be baptized with the Holt Ghost not many days 
hence;" and according to St. Peter's argument with the Jews, 
on that day, "This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all 
are witnesses; therefore, being by the right hand of God ex- 
alted, and having received of the Father the promise of the 
Holt Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and 
hear." 

Thirdly, as the Lord Jesus Chkist evinced the divine au- 
thority of his commission by the miracles which he wrought, 
in like manner were his apostles provided with this testimo- 
ny to their commission, as the Ambassadors of Christ. 

"If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true," said 
our Lord. "Ye sent unto John, and he bare witness of the 
truth; but I have greater witness than that of John; for the 
works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same 
works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath 
sent me. 

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that believeth on me, 
the works that I do shall he do; and greater works than these 
shall he do; because I go unto my Father. — And with great 
power, gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the 
Lord Jesus. And by the hands of the apostles were many 
signs and wonders wrought among the people, and believers 
were the more added to the Lord." 

Fourthly, as the commission of our Lord and Saviour Je- 
sus Christ, (as the revealer of the will of God,) included the 
race lie came to redeem and save, so, also, is the commission 
to his apostles alike comprehensive in the extent of its juris- 
diction. "As by the offence of one, judgment came upon all 
men to condemnation; even so, by the righteousness of one, 
the free gift came upon all men, unto justification of life. — 
Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations. — Go ye into all the 
world and preach the gospel to every creature." 

Fifthly, as our Lord is ordained and commissioned as the 
Judge of quick and dead, by the "God and Father of the 
spirits of all flesh," so, also, has the great Head of the Church 
clothed his apostles with a similar distinction. "When the 
Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels 



A SERMON" ON THE CHRISTIAN MINISTRY. 123 

with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory-; and 
before him shall be gathered all nations, and he shall sepa- 
rate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep 
from the go.ats. And Jesus said unto them, Yerily I say 
unto you, that ye which have followed me, in the regenera- 
tion, when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, 
ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve 
tribes of Israel." 

From the connexion and parallel thus shown, my brethren, - 
(and doubtless it might be more minutely traced,) what cair 
we infer, but that the Christian ministry is of that important 
and influential character to revealed religion — so connected 
with its divine original,. and so bound up with the hope of 
man, in the administration of its saving ordinances — as to 
claim, from every rational believer, that verification which 
alone can give to any agency the stamp of assurance. And 
we have but to suppose the apostles of Christ, at the first 
promulgation of Christianity, unable to prove their divine 
commission by its then proper testimony, to learn how im- 
possible it would have been for the gospel to have prevailed 
against established superstition, and the vices thereby gene- 
rated, and even consecrated, among the heathen nations of 
the world; and thence to derive those conclusive arguments 
which demonstrate the continual necessity of a like verifiable 
authority to every generation of men, in transacting what 
God requires at their hands in order to their becoming and 
continuing parties to this great salvation, as a system of re- 
ciprocal covenants, between God and man. 

Indeed, my brethren and hearers, it is only as a scheme of 
covenanted mercy, on declared conditions, that any outward 
order and appointment, any Church ministry and sacraments, 
are requisite to religion. Abstracted from this, every man 
might be his own administrator in religious things, and all 
hope and assurance be vacated, until the judgment of the 
great day. Disjoined from this, also, every thing like union 
and fellowship in the Saviour's religion would be an impos- 
sible requirement, inasmuch as there would be nothing out- 
ward and visible, to test internal agreement in faith and 
charity; and man would be left to travel through his pilgrim- 
age here, solitary, unconnected, unaided, and unencouraged, 



124 A SERMON ON THE CHRISTIAN MINISTRY. 

towards eternity. It is a cold and comfortless thought, my 
hearers, yet it is inseparable from the denial of a verifiable 
divine commission to the Christian ministry. It is a cheer- 
less, gloomy condition, my brethren, to which a merciful God 
has not consigned us, notwithstanding such numbers adopt 
it; to which the Scriptures of our faith give no countenance, 
and to which the searching question — "By what authority 
doest thou these things?" if seriously applied, would unmask 
the disguises, and tear away the sophistry, wherewith the 
right and the efficiency of a ministry not apostolically de- 
/ rived, is covered up and defended. 

III. Thirdly, I am to consider the continuation of this com- 
mission in the world. 

That it was to accompany the gospel in its progress, as an 
integral part of the dispensation, may be shown from a va- 
riety of considerations, but chiefly from this: That to every 
generation of men, as it comes forward to accountable life, 
the gospel is in fact a revelation; has to be considered, in its 
evidences, its authority, its obligations, its benefits, as the 
personal concern of each individual; has to be met or reject- 
ed, in its faith, its duties, its grace, its ordinances, as the pre- 
scribed conditions of salvation. Nor do the advantages of 
early initiation into its hope, or nurture and admonition in 
its precepts, at all alter the case, except as these are advan- 
tages — additional talents increasing responsibility for their 
improvement. Christianity is for ever a substantive consid- 
eration, my brethren, and religion a personal attainment, to 
all who are called by the gospel to the knowledge of this 
grace. It does, indeed, derive confirmation from the accu- 
mulating testimony of centuries and numbers, in behalf of 
its truth and divine original. But it is, nevertheless, inde- 
pendent of this aid, resting on its own evidences for the wis- 
dom or the folly of receiving or rejecting it. For it was just 
as true and divine, at its first promulgation, as at any subse- 
quent time. 

Had, then, the gospel commission been confined to a few 
persons, a few generations only could have reaped the advan- 
tage of their ministry. Unless, therefore, the lives of suck 
persons were miraculously continued, all who came after 
them must be deprived of the benefit of authorized religious 



A SERMON ON THE CHRISTIAN MINISTRY. 125 

ministrations. Hence, if there is any connexion between 
Christianity and its author; if there be any dependence, for 
religious benefit, on religious instruction, on religious ordi j 
nances duly administered — in short, on keeping alive in the 
world "the knowledge of the only true God, and of Jesus 
Christ whom he hath sent," it can only be done (miracle al- 
ways excepted) by a continued succession in the ministry, 
from the one original root of all authority to minister in the 
affairs of Christ's kingdom. 

And such, in fact, is the method infinite wisdom hath 
adopted. "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of 
the world," are the words of encouragement and perpetuity, 
which our Lord addressed to the apostles for their personal 
comfort, and to the Church for its lasting assurance that "the 
gates of hell should not prevail against it;" and no other or 
reasonable interpretation can be given of them, than as ap- 
plicable to their successors in the ministry. The apostles, 
individually, soon finished their laborious and painful, but 
heaven-blessed and glorious race. They had this treasure in 
earthen vessels, materials which could not last. But before 
they finished their course, respectively, they committed unto 
faithful men, by divine direction, that commission and au- 
thority for the rule and government of the Church, for the 
guardianship of the faith, and fulfilment of the gospel dis- 
pensation, which they received from Christ, and Christ from 
the Father. In which transfer, they gave instructions for the 
due and faithful performance of the duties peculiar to their 
office; with directions that they also should, in like manner, 
"commit the same to faithful men, who should be able to 
teach others," and thus continue the line of apostolical suc- 
cession, unbroken, to the end. 

"Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the commandment of 
God our Saviour, and the Lord Jesus Christ, according to 
the gospel of the ever blessed God, which was committed to 
my trust, whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle. 
This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy; and the things 
that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same 
commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach 
others also.'' 

This is the language of St. Paul to Timothy, when trans- 



126 A SERilON OX THE CHRISTIAN MINISTRY. 

ferring to him the authority to rule, censure, restrain, and 
ordain in the Church; which manifests in what sense he under- 
stood the continuance of the apostolic commission; and, in 
connexion with the uniform, undeniable practice of the 
Church of Christ for fifteen hundred years, might put at rest, 
forever, all dispute upon this subject, as a matter of fact, as 
a point to be tried by its proper evidence. 

But, independent of this, from the words of my text, and 
the parallel passages of Scripture, it would appear that a con- 
trary conclusion does violence to the only possible purpose 
and design in the appointment of a visible Churck with an 
authorized ministry. These, if they mean and effect any 
thing in the salvation of men, must be considered as pro- 
visions in aid of union and assurance of faith among Chris- 
tians. And in what way this purpose can be answered, other 
than by a fixed and unchangeable standard of unity, in faith, 
doctrine, and worship, referable to a derived, transmitted, 
and thereby verifiable, authority, to act as "ambassadors of 
Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God," is difficult to 
conceive, and still harder to make appear. "As my Father 
hath sent me, even so send I you. I appoint unto you a 
kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me." Hence 
it is clear, 

First, That whatever the authority of Christ in the gospel 
dispensation was, with reference to the Church, of the same 
extent was that of his apostles. As he alone could purchase, 
so they only could plant and govern his Church. All others 
were interdicted from any interference. 

Secondly, As the Church and ministry, in this dispen- 
sation, were intended for perpetuity, "even till the earth be 
filled with the knowledge of the Lord;" therefore, this 
authority must also continue, and run parallel with it, through 
all generations. As Christ's commission and authority, de- 
rived from the Father, admitted a transfer of it to his apos- 
tles, in like manner the commission and authority of the 
apostles, derived from Christ, admitted, and in fact included, 
a like transmission to others, and equally verifiable with 
theirs. Each were invested with powers and qualifications 
suited to the exigences of the Church — to its condition at the 
time; and as there were many things in which the apostles 



A SERMON ON THE CHRISTIAN MINISTRY. 127 

were inferior to their Master, as the head, but yet truly his 
successors in things necessary to the Church, so are there 
many things in which the subsequent governors of the 
Church were inferior to the apostles; yet were they truly, and 
to all necessary purposes, their successors. And this may 
serve as an answer to the childish cavil so much relied upon, 
that the apostles, as inspired men, endowed with miraculous 
power, and eye witnesses of the resurrection and ascended 
glory of Jesus Christ, could have no successors. In ihesd 
things, indeed, they could have no successors; neither was 
the continuance of such qualifications needed by the Church. 
The apostles lived to establish the Church, and complete the 
canon of Scripture, as the standard of faith. Their extraor- 
dinary powers were given for this end, which being answered, 
they were withdrawn. But in the necessary powers and 
qualifications for its government, preservation in unity, and 
extension in the world; as these were continually needed, 
essential to the very being of the Church, as a visible society; 
so, in them the apostles both could have, and did have, suc- 
cessors; which have continued in an unbroken line of trans- 
mitted authority to this day, through the order of Bishops, as 
the only lawful and verifiable source of spiritual rule, in the 
kingdom of Christ. 

IY. Fourthly, I am to consider the object, or purpose, of 
a divinely constituted ministry in the Church, or kingdom, 
of Christ. 

That every regular society, whether civil or religious, to be 
either permanent or profitable, must be administered by its 
proper officers, duly authorized, is too obvious to require 
either proof or illustration. The Church of Christ, therefore, 
diners in no respect from all other societies, as to this neces- 
sity. Order, and not confusion, is the signature of the Al- 
mighty on all his works, and equally conspicuous in the con- 
stitution of his holy Church, which he has put under the 
regular subordination of a government suited to the objects 
of such an institution. 

Neither does the Church differ from other societies in the 
application of the rule, inseparable from every regular 
government, "no man taketh this honor unto himself;" a self 
constituted or irregularly appointed magistrate being, in 



128 A SERMON ON THE CHRISTIAN MINISTRY. 

every sense, an intruder, -whether in the Church or in the 
state. The Church diners, however, in the source from 
which the honor or authority is derived. As civil societies 
derive altogether from common consent of the parties as- 
sociated; the Church on the contrary, as a spiritual society, 
derives directly from its divine Head: "My kingdom is not 
of this world," saith the Saviour. 

Another design of a divinely constituted ministry in the 
Church, with a verifiable authority, is, for assurance in the 
administration of the ordinances of religion. Without this, 
there can be no more certainty and assurance, no more 
validity and effect, in the sacraments of religion, than there 
can be in civil affairs, from transacting the requisitions of 
government with self appointed officers; and as, in the latter 
case, though the men may be very competent, and the per- 
son transacting perfectly sincere in his intentions, yet, for 
want of due authority, the whole is a nullity, and cannot be 
recognized; so, in the former case, if we would act with as- 
surance, we must act according to the rule and order laid 
down for the government of the Church, as a divinely con- 
stituted society, under its proper officers. And did men 
allow this plain analogy its proper weight, there would be 
less danger of being seduced into the pernicious paths of 
division and discord. 

It is, therefore, for the benefit of third persons, for those 
who desire the aids and the hopes which Christ's religion pre- 
sents to mortals, that a fixed and authorized ministry is an 
integral part of the gospel. As it is a communication from 
heaven to man, through men of like passions with others, some 
mark of discrimination, some distinctive character, of a higher 
order than man can supply, is necessary to designate those 
to whom is committed the ministry of reconciliation, and 
dispensing the mysteries of God's grace in the sacraments of 
the gospel. But where would be the benefit, had we no 
means of determining the true from the surreptitious author- 
ity? The very reason of the thing, therefore, points to trans- 
mitted succession from the apostles. This the divine wisdom 
has seen fit to provide and appoint, and this we are bound to 
follow, if we would have our religion what it is intended 
to be, to-wit, a reasonable service, and a source of comfort 



A SERMON ON THE CHRISTIAN MINISTRY. 129 

and assurance during our journey through life, and of re- 
vealed hope for eternity. 

The apostles of our Lord gave to the world the incontestible 
evidence of miraculous power, that they were messengers of 
heaven, commissioned servants of the Saviour, to show unto 
men the way of salvation. And though, from the very nature 
of things, this mode of proof could not continue, inasmuch 
as a perpetual miracle would cease to be such, from constant 
recurrence; yet we are not deprived of sufficiently satisfactory 
evidence on this leading point of revealed religion. The au- 
thority of the Church planted and ordered by these very 
apostles, regularly transmitted from them, and attested by 
the public ordination of her ministry, being the true and only 
substitute for miraculous attestation to ministerial commis- 
sion. Since the cessation of miraculous gifts in the Church, 
no man can prove a priori that he is called of God — moved 
by the Holy Ghost to take upon him this ministry. But an 
a priori proof of this as a fact, must precede the very first 
ministerial act, if we would avoid uncertainty and confusion. 
Therefore, the authority of the Church, regularly deduced 
from the apostles who founded it, as it is the only verifiable, 
so it is the only valid proof of ministerial commission. 

The sum is this: The Christian ministry is either at large, 
that is, the right and privilege of every private Christian, to 
assume at his pleasure; or it is limited, that is, confined to a 
particular order of men, acting under apostolical authority. 

But, according to the Scriptures, Christ limited his author- 
ity to preach and baptize — to found and govern his Church 
— to the apostles. Therefore, if there is a Christian ministry 
upon this earth, if the promise, "Lo, I am with you always, 
even unto the end of the world," has not failed, that ministry 
must be sought in apostolical succession. From this position 
there is no escape, but a determined adherence to the oppo- 
site notion, in defiance of Scripture and reason. 

Where, and with whom it is to be found, is the deep and 
previous question, which every man, as serious for his soul 
as for his estate, has to settle at his entrance on a religious 
course of life. One thing, however, is beyond dispute: no 
apostle has appeared in the interval which has elapsed since 
those first appointed finished their course. No subsequent 
[Vol. l,-*9.] 



130 A SERMON ON THE CHRISTIAN MINISTRY. 

origination of names and orders in the Christian community, 
therefore, can claim the sanction of apostolic origin. 

Y. I come now to conclude, with such practical inferences 
from the whole, as are naturally suggested by the solemn 
duty we have this day to perform. 

And first: If the view I have taken of this subject be at all 
founded on Scripture and reason, it is not of that unimpor- 
tant, indifferent nature, which some endeavor to represent it, 
but so intimately connected with the certainty or uncertainty, 
the safety or insecurity of our eternal condition, according to 
the public stipulation of the gospel, as to give that color to 
our religious condition in this world which is entitled to as- 
surance, or divested of revealed hope. 

Secondly, if the order of the gospel is as much a part of 
God's revealed will as tlie faith of the gospel, it is equally 
entitled to our reverence and observance; and no reasonings 
should be listened to, which go, in any way, to separate what 
God in his wisdom hath seen fit to connect together, for the 
comfort and edification of his creatures. It is ever at our 
personal peril, my friends, if we venture to stretch our mea- 
sure beyond its proper limit, and create a standard for the 
gospel, instead of making the gospel the safe standard to our 
thoughts and actions. 

Thirdly, if the means of determining the lawfulness of the 
authority by which our spiritual guides act, be thus furnished 
to all, under the gospel dispensation, there can be no excuse 
for negligence or remissness on such a commanding interest; 
for the very first religious ordinance, by which we obtain a 
title to the covenanted mercies of the redemption that is in 
Christ Jesus for ourselves and our children, prompts the in- 
quiry, as to the administrator, "By what authority doest thou 
these things?" And, while no worldly-wise man will pur- 
chase, for himself or his children, an earthly inheritance, 
without careful scrutiny into his right and title who conveys 
it to him; no serious Christian can be justified, even in the 
eye of reason, who accepts a title to a heavenly inheritance, 
either for himself or his children, without an equally careful 
examination of his right to convey who proffers to transfer it. 

Thus, my brethren and hearers, do we find the maxims and 
the prudence of common life our schoolmasters, to teach us 



A SEEMON ON THE CHEISTIAN MINISTEY. 131 

our duty in this infinite interest, of our claim to, and rightful 
Scriptural expectation of God's revealed mercies in Cheist 
Jesus. And, in laying them before you on this occasion, I 
fulfil an imperious duty, for which I feel and know that I 
am responsible to God; but on which there is a guarded si- 
lence preserved by those whose very existence depends on 
keeping this inquiry from general attention, and who. stig- 
matize every attempt to give information, as an uncharitable 
effort to disturb the peace and harmony of the professing 
world. 

But, my brethren, such railing accusations have no weight 
with me. The truth — "the truth as it is in Jesus," — is all I 
live for; is what, by the grace of God, I would die for; and 
nothing else, how specious soever in its structure, will avail 
either you or me, in the great day of eternity. I am not 
calling your attention to the title to your estates, but to that 
title on which your souls rest for their hope of a heavenly in- 
heritance. And could I but rouse yo % u to. feel the same inter- 
est for the one, which you manifest fer the other, God would 
be glorified in the triumphs of divine truth, and an evange- 
lized world resound his praise, who, "when he ascended up 
on high, led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men; and 
he gave some apostles, and some prophets, and some evan- 
gelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the perfecting of 
the saints, for the edifying of the body of Cheist, till we all 
come, in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the 
Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the sta- 
ture of the fullness of Cheist." 

To you, my brethren, whose purpose it is, by the good mo- 
tions of the Holy Ghost, to devote yourselves to this minis- 
try, and, in the presence of God and of this congregation, to 
pledge yourselves this day, to the advancement of the Re- 
deemer's kingdom, I now turn, and, from the consideration 
of the high authority under which you will be commissioned 
to act, would call your attention to the proportionally high 
and solemn obligations under which you are about to come. 

"Separated to the gospel of God," henceforth all profane 
and secular occupations, beyond those indispensable to the 
common duties of life, in every calling, are put beneath your 
notice. 



132 A SEEMON ON THE CHRISTIAN MINISTRY. 

Your ambition must now be directed to the attainment of 
"the honor that conieth of God." Your labor and diligence 
must henceforth be applied to approve yourselves faithful to 
him who hath called you into the spiritual vineyard. Your 
riches must now consist in accountable souls won over from 
darkness and death of sin, to glory, honor, and immortality, 
by the power and grace of Cheist, through the word preached 
unto them. 

All conformity to the world is henceforth peculiarly inter- 
dicted to you. To the Ministers of Cheist, and Messengers 
of salvation to a sin-ruined world, its vain and vicious plea- 
sures, its ensnaring temptations and unhallowed pursuits, 
must be guarded against, with that care and watchfulness, 
which the deepest conviction of their danger and fallacy alone 
can supply. "Ye are not of the world," said our Loed, to 
his first disciples; and it is yet true, in the just application of 
the words to all who are moved by the Holt Ghost to take 
upon them this office and ministration. Let your deport- 
ment, then, show, that you can so use the world as not abus- 
ing it; that your treasure is elsewhere laid up, and your af- 
fections settled on another and a better country, even an 
heavenly. 

Ambassadors of Cheist! A station more dignified and ex- 
alted, more influential and extensive, than the kingdoms of 
this world can match; but withal, my brothers, more highly 
responsible, by all the difference between time and eternity. 
As envoys of the Loed Jesus Cheist, the ministry of recon- 
ciliation is committed to you. You have to negotiate terms 
of peace between earthly rebels and their heavenly Sove- 
reign; between dying sinners and their living Saviour; and 
diligence and faithfulness alone can offer you the hope of 
success, and enable you to deliver your own souls. ■ 

In this labor of love, bear ever in mind, my brothers, the 
instructions for your embassy, contained in the word of God; 
and, within that gracious limit, draw out every affection of 
nature and grace, to win immortal souls to eternal life. Con- 
template your merciful Master, loving them, even unto the 
death of the cross, and cultivate the mind that was in him. 
Use the "terrors of the Loed to persuade men;" the promises 
of God, to engage them; the lov^ of Cheist to constrain them; 



A SERMON ON THE CHRISTIAN MINISTRY. 133 

and the example of your own lives to encourage them to lay- 
down the weapons of a mad rebellion, and embrace the mercy 
that spares and saves. Assure them, with all the earnestness 
of personal experience, that none were ever rejected who 
sincerely and penitently sought unto God, through his only 
begotten Son; and that, through faith in his blood, pardon, 
grace, and everlasting life, are the rich exchange you are 
authorized to offer them for guilt, and sin, and eternal death, 
the only fruit of their rebellion, if persisted in. Address their 
hopes, their fears, their reason, their self-love, if by any means 
you may save some, making full proof of your ministry. 

Stewards of the mysteries of God! Intrusted with the rich 
deposit of his grace, in the word and sacraments of the gos- 
pel! That grace, without which fallen creatures can do no- 
thing in the great work of spiritual renewal, and in working 
out their everlasting salvation. That grace, which is the 
purchase of Christ's death, the root of all holy desires, all 
good counsels, and all just works, in redeemed man, which 
is given to every man to profit withal, and shines bright and 
cheering in those very offers of mercy you are commissioned 
to bear forth among your fellow sinners. This you have to 
deal out in measure and season to the household of faith, 
watching that all be duly supplied according to their several 
wants, and that none be deprived, by your negligence, of 
that spiritual nourishment which is the food of the soul. Re- 
member then, my brothers, that it is "required of stewards, 
that a man be found faithful;" and keep full before you '"the 
prize of your high calling," that, giving yourselves wholly to 
this work, your crown may be bright with jewels, in the day 
of the Lord Jesus. To whose holy keeping and all-sufficient 
grace, I commit and commend you; and to whose holy name, 
with the Father and the Holt Ghost, one only and ever- 
living God, be glory and praise from redeemed man, world 
without end. Amen. 



REVELATION THE FOUNDATION OF FAITH; 

A SERMON, 

PREACHED IN 

ST. LUKE'S CHURCH, SALISBURY, NORTH CAROLINA, 

AT THE ORDINATION OF 

THE REV. PHILIP B. WILEY, 
Sunday, Mat 24, 1829. 

Romans s. 14, and part of 15, 

"How, then, shall they call on him, in -whom they have not believed? and 
how shall they believe in him, of whom they have not heard? and how shall 
they hear, without a Preacher? and how shall they preach, except they be 
Sent?" 

In this series of questions, it appears to be the apostle's 
object to show, that revelation is the only foundation on which 
religion can be either required of, or practised by, fallen 
creatures; and as it is of the highest importance to the inter- 
ests of our souls, my hearers, that men should be fully con- 
vinced of this primary truth, I shall endeavor to explain and 
confirm it, by showing, 

Fikst, that discoveries are made in the gospel of Christ, 
which were otherwise impossible to men. 

Secondly, that these discoveries are adapted to a state or 
condition of the world, from which it was desirable to be de- 
livered. 

Thirdly, that the preaching of the word is the regular ap- 
pointed means for making known to the world the methods 
of God's grace, in the salvation of sinners. — "How, then, 
shall they call on him, in whom they have not believed? and 
how shall they believe in him, of whom they have not heard? 
and how shall they hear, without a preacher?" 

Fourthly, that as the discoveries of the gospel are of di- 
vine revelation, so are the preaching of the word and the ad- 
ministration of the gospel, by a divine commission — "And 
how shall they preach, except they be sent?" 



136 REVELATION THE FOUNDATION OF FAITH. 

I. First, I am to show that discoveries are made in the gos- 
pel of Christ, which were otherwise impossible to men. 

To those who are acquainted with that gospel, this propo- 
sition would seem to require no proof. But on a little more 
consideration, we shall find that the actual condition of the 
religious world renders it both necessary and proper, to vin- 
dicate the claims of revealed religion, against religion in the 
general or abstract notion of the unbelieving indifference of 
too many, in this latter-day state of the gospel. It is a part 
of our weakness, my brethren, against which we should be 
6tead.ly on our guard, that admitted truths, however high 
their importance, lose by length of time, that relish and 
impression, which the freshness of discovery imparts to them. 
Hence, though the acknowledgment is general, in all Chris- 
tian lands, of those truths, which by revelation are made our 
own — and though the awful consequences which depend upon 
them, are just the same now, as at the beginning — yet it is 
past all contradiction true, that they are not listened to with 
that reverence and attention — they do not occupy and fill the 
minds of men with that deep and serious interest, which so 
tremendous an alternative, as salvation or damnation, must 
present to every reflecting mind. Having been so long in 
possession, we are apt to overlook the source from whence 
we derive them — to consider them as antiquated, and far 
distant, in their application; when, nevertheless, in their vi- 
tal influence upon the heart, they are to this day, and will 
be to the end of days, as new and as fresh as when first pro- 
mulgated. 

To this cause it is owing, that experimental religion is so 
little sought after — that so many are satisfied with the know- 
ledge of the truth, and are careless about the effect — that 
numbers rest contented with the form, while they are stran- 
gers to the power of godliness; forgetting that "the letter kill- 
eth" — that mere acquaintance with religious truth possesses 
no saving power, being equally in reach of the worst and of 
the best of men; and not bearing in mind, that "the Spirit 
giveth life," in the saving application of truth to the heart, 
and from thence to the conversation, of every believer. 

To this cause, also, I am disposed to refer that trait in the 
free-thinking philosophy of the present day, which boldly 



REVELATION THE FOUNDATION OF FAITH. 137 

assumes as its own the deep things of God, deals with them 
as with mere natural verities, and putting in the back ground 
the only source of truth and wisdom, presumptuously specu- 
lates on the condition of man, and on the purposes of God 
respecting him, as if the counsels of him who is perfect in 
knowledge were within the grasp of a finite and fallen crea- 
ture. Hence much of that indifference, not to say deadness, 
to the religion of the gospel, which marks men of literary 
pretensions in the present, as well as in primitive times. Full 
of the "wisdom of the world," but empty of that "wisdom 
which cometh down from above," they overlook the never 
to be shaken truth, that, but for the page of revelation, the 
boasted powers of human reason could never have advanced 
a single step in the science of salvation. "The world by wis- 
dom knew not God." To this, also, I doubt not, it is owing, 
that "not many wise, not many noble, are now called — be- 
cause that, though they profess to know God, they glorify 
him not as God, neither are thankful, but become vain in 
their imaginations, and their foolish heart is darkened," so 
that God permits strong delusion to lay hold of them — even 
to believing the impossible lie, that they can be their own 
Saviours. And were this evil confined to this description of 
persons, though deejjly to be deplored, it might be submitted 
to; but unhappily the example is spreading among the rising 
hope of future days — in the young men of this generation, 
who are caught by the glitter of false learning, and seduced 
by the "great swelling words of vanity," according to the 
description of the apostle, "wherewith they promise them 
liberty" from what they are pleased to call the trammels of 
superstition, and whereby they are seduced to doubt, and to 
deny, the truth "which is according to godliness." 

But were the revelation of the gospel fairly considered — 
what it is that it brings to our knowledge, with what it pro- 
poses to our attainment — it could not fail, I think, to interest 
and engage, even the commanding and commendable ac- 
quirements of literature, unreservedly in its behalf. For it 
meets us, with its soul cheering discoveries, exactly where 
the powers of human reason come to a full stop. When ob- 
servation and experience introduce us fully to that confusion 
and disorder which pervade equally the natural and the 



138 KEYELATTON THE FOUNDATION OF FAITH. 

moral world, they can go no farther; and just at this point, 
the discoveries of revelation step in to save us from the 
gloomy conclusions of fate and necessity — of chance-creation, 
<md Atheism. 

One single example out of many may serve, my hearers, 
to confirm this remark. How are we to account for the ori- 
gin and existence of evil, either natural or moral, in the cre- 
ation of a perfectly good, wise, and omnipotent Being? Can 
reason and philosophy account for this? Alas, it is power- 
less. We may conjecture and speculate, and build up theo- 
ry upon theory, till we lose ourselves in thought, but still we 
have only the miserable certainty, that evil is present with 
us. To revelation alone, therefore, are we indebted for this 
discovery. 

But admitting for the moment, that it is possible to be sa- 
tisfied on this point, without the aid of revelation — let me 
ask, what are we the better for it? Can this knowledge, 
however attained, furnish a remedy for, or arrest, the mortal 
malady under which the world labors? No, not at all. "Man 
knoweth not the price thereof, neither is it found in the land 
of the living — the depth saith it is not in me, and the sea 
saith it is not with me. But God understandeth the way 
thereof," and hath showed unto us in the gospel of his Son, 
"the place where wisdom may be found" — that wisdom, com- 
pared witli which, all the wisdom of the world is foolishness: 
— that truth, in the light of which the wisest systems of hu- 
man contrivance vanish into their original darkness: — that 
truth, which shall endure, and shine brighter and brighter, 
when this world, with all its wisdom and philosophy, "shall 
pass away with a great noise," and be no more seen for ever. 
To the gospel, then, my brethren and hearers, and to the 
gospel alone, must we look for the solution of every difficul- 
ty, and of every doubt, which attends our present condition. 
To that also must we come — and, thanks be to God for the 
blessed privilege, to that may we freely come — for help and 
deliverance, for comfort and consolation, for grace and truth, 
through Jesus Cekist our Lord. Man, the favored creature 
of Almighty God, made in the image of his Creator, and amply 
provided with all that was needful for his happiness, by wilful 
disobedience drew down upon himself, and upon creation, 



KEVELATION THE FOUNDATION OF FAITH. 139 

the curse of God. Hence the origin of that sin and misery, 
■which prevails in this world. But mercy, in the person of 
Jesus Chkist, the eternal and only begotten Son of God, in- 
terposed in behalf of the condemned criminal, arrested the 
uplifted stroke of infinite justice by the substitution of him- 
self; and thereb} 7 converted the present life, with all its load 
of guilt and suffering, of sorrow and disappointment, into a 
state of renewed trial and probation for the attainment of 
eternal life, on the condition of faith and renewed obedience. 
To satisfy the demands of infinite justice, purity, and holi- 
ness, invaded by the presence of sin; to bear the punishment, 
•which the broken law inexorably demanded, and without 
which no propitiation could be effected — for without shedding 
of Mood there is no remission; to teach us authoritatively the 
■will of God, and to set before us an example of all holiness, 
humility, and patience, in the very nature which had sinned 
— the Son of God took our nature upon him, became the 
representative of the human race, paid with his own spotless 
life the ransom of their forfeited lives, and ratified in the 
blood of his cross a new covenant of grace and mercy be- 
tween God and man, in which repentance is accepted, and 
made available to the pardon of sin, through faith in the 
atoning virtue of his blood poured out upon the cross for the 
sins of the whole world. And the sincere though imperfect 
obedience of sinful creatures, is accepted before God, through 
his mediation and intercession. This, my brethren, is the 
"gospel of the ever blessed God — the glad tidings of great 
joy, which shall be to all people"' — to the blessings and 
benefits of which state of salvation, it hath pleased God to 
call you, my friends. This is the "wisdom of God in a 
mystery" — the revelation of "the hidden mystery, which was 
kept secret since the world began, but now is made manifest, 
and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the com- 
mandment of the everlasting God, is made known to all 
nations for the obedience of faith." These are the high dis- 
coveries which the gospel makes to our faith, and which 
nothing but infinite love and wisdom could have so adapted 
to our wants and wishes, that in the fullness and freeness of 
gospel grace, there is a sufficiency, even for the chief of sin- 
ners. "0, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and 



140 REVELATION THE FOUNDATION OF FAITH. 

knowledge of God." Sin condemned and atoned for, by the 
same act — the law satisfied, its rigor relaxed, and "the 
righteousness which is of faith" established — "life and im- 
mortality brought to light," by the clear and full discovery 
of another life after this — a judgment day declared, and the 
very manner of that judgment represented, wherein all who 
have ever lived shall "give account of themselves to God," 
and be rewarded or punished everlastingly, "according to 
the deeds done in the body." 

Now let me ask, in what wilderness of thought could the 
wisdom of the world have stumbled on such discoveries as 
these, and so put them together as to harmonize with the per- 
fections of God, and the imperfections of his fallen, sinful 
creature, as is manifested in the glorious plan of our redemp- 
tion by Jesus Chkist? O ye disputers of this world, who 
vainly strive to bolster up the misgivings of your own hearts, 
by an affectation of doubt on the revelation of the gospel — 
but in the Lour of danger give the lie to your own vain talk- 
ings, and flee to the consolations and hopes which that alone 
can give — why do you thus sin against your own souls? Is 
there any thing disgraceful in accepting mercy or receiving 
favor at the hand of Almighty God? Is there any thing low 
or unbecoming in humbling yourselves to submit to the 
righteousness of God, that he may save you by a way you 
know not of? Come on now, bring your boasted reason to 
the trial, and let us see what you can substitute for "that 
grace of God which bringeth salvation." Suit yourselves 
every way, so that no earthly objection shall be found against 
your method of salvation — and what then! Alas, yourselves 
.dare not trust it. It is of man, the production of a perishing 
creature, and must go, with its author, to a tribunal that is 
eternal. For it is written, "As I live, saith the Lokd, every 
knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God." 

II. Secondly, I am to show that these discoveries are 
adapted to a state or condition of the world, from which it 
was desirable to be delivered. 

The condition of man as a sinner, and consequently liable 
to wrath and punishment, and conscious that he is thus 
liable, is demonstrated by all that has hitherto been dis- 
covered concerning him. "Wherever he is found, whether 



REVELATION THE FOUNDATION OF FAITH. 141 

civilized or savage, a sense of guilt cleaving to him is mani- 
fested; and religion, in some shape or other, is the refuge to 
which he flees for relief and comfort. Conscious that he is 
under the control and within the power of an invisible and 
omnipotent Being, with whom he is at variance, and whom 
it is both his duty and his interest to propitiate, every device 
which ignorance and fear can prompt superstition to invent, 
has been resorted to, to appease the wrath and avert the in- 
dignation of that Supreme Being who is thus ignorantly 
worshipped. In this universal worship there is one circum- 
stance, my brethren, which is common to all the shapes and 
forms with which it has been invested: which is this — the 
vicarious substitution of man or animal, as a sacrifice, to 
avert wrath from the worshipper himself. Wherever man is 
found, even in the most degraded and brutal state in which 
recent discovery has represented him to our notice, where no 
other trace of religion is to be seen, the victim bleeds, and 
life is offered up to appease and propitiate. An experience 
thus general, my hearers, is with me a most conclusive argu- 
ment for the truth of revelation; for it is not to be accounted 
for, that such should be the universal impression and practice, 
but from the identity of the human race, the community of 
guilt, and the tradition of that sacrifice which was instituted 
upon the entrance of sin, as a type of that great sin-offering 
presented on Calvary, "which taketh away the sins of the 
world." 

The great*volume of nature, my brethren, unquestionably 
points the creature to the Creator, and as God, it is his first 
duty to honor and to worship Mim, who "giveth to all his 
creatures life and breath and all things." But alas, the 
power of sin hath so weakened and corrupted his faculties, 
that this grand and universally legible record of God is a 
sealed book to him, as to himself. Amid the beauties and 
bounties of nature, man sees and feels the effects of the curse, 
and shrinks in terror and dismay from that awful being, 
who rides in the whirlwind and directs the storm. If he re- 
flects at all, he perceives that himself is nothing, even here, 
where he is lord of all below. And if an anxious thought 
should burst the barrier of sensible things, and inquire be- 
yond the grave, nature has no sweet discovery wherewith to 



142 REVELATION THE FOUNDATION OF FAITH. 

relieve the anxious soul, which pants for immortality. If he 
has advanced to the supreme and eternal Cause of all being 
by the study of his works, he beholds God in all the pleni- 
tude of his incommunicable attributes, he beholds himself 
without any claim to his notice and regard, but what he has 
in common with every other creature to whom life is given. 
Nature's volume contains no record of sympathy and com- 
passion for deceived and ruined mortals. Yet something 
within him would claim a nearer relationship — the immortal 
aspiring principle, which God breathed into him with the 
breath of life, would soar to its original kindred in the 
heavens. But guilt, the guilt of sin, hath put a bar between 
them, which nature cannot remove. ISTo, clear brethren, 
without the gospel, there is neither help nor hope for sinners. 
Thus surrounded by a power which he cannot escape; con- 
scious of a guilt, which he cannot remove; desirous to pro- 
pitiate, but ignorant of what will be acceptable; exposed to 
the evil which sin hath entailed upon the present life; death, 
sooner or later, certain and inevitable; another state of being, 
after this, shrouded from his view in all the uncertainty of 
un revealed conjecture, yet nevetheless what gives shape and 
substance to all his fears: — what is there in such a condition 
desirable? or, rather, my friends, what is there in it, from 
which it is not above all things desirable to be delivered? 
And, thanks be to God, by the revelation of Jesus Christ in 
the gospel, we are delivered from this dark and dismal state 
of doubt and dismay. It is our unspeakable blessing, my 
dear hearers, to know the gracious purpose of Almighty God, 
in permitting that mixed state of moral and natural evil 
which this present world presents to our notice. It is ours 
to know, that his power and providence stand engaged to 
make it work together for his glory and our good. It is ours 
to look up to him with reverence and love, as our reconciled 
father in Christ Jesus. It is ours to know the propitiation 
which is always acceptable in his sight, even the blood of 
his only begotten Son, "which cleanseth from all sin." It is 
ours to know his will, and to have power to do it, through 
the grace given us in Christ Jesus. It is ours to look be- 
yond the grave, to a never-ending existence, in which the 
awful sanctions of religion shall be applied to the deeds done 



REVELATION THE FOUNDATION OF FAITH. 143 

in this body, by the righteous judgment of God, in the re- 
wards and punishments of eternity. And it is our high 
privilege, my brethren in the Lord, by virtue of the victory 
given us over death, hell, and the grave, through the resur- 
rection of Christ, to look forward with humble yet joyful 
hope, with lively and assured faith, "to an inheritance incor- 
ruptible, unclefiled, and which fadeth not away," reserved in 
heaven for us. 

These are the discoveries of the gospel, and of the gospel 
alone. These are the otherwise impossible discoveries, made 
to mankind by revelation, adapted to that destitute and help- 
less condition in which sin had sunk the world; from which 
it was surely most desirable to be delivered: and which God 
hath "commanded to be preached among all nations for the 
obedience of faith." Which brings me to what was pro- 
posed as the third head of this discourse. 

III. Thirdly, I am to show, that the preaching of the word 
is the regular, appointed means for making known to the 
world the methods of God's grace in the salvation of sinners. 

To our habits of thought and action, my hearers, the pro- 
position stands in need of no proof: "Go ye into all the 
world, and preach the gospel to every creature," is the com- 
mission of the author of our religion to his ministers: But to 
impress upon you more deeply, the great importance of the 
appointment, and to point out the benefits which in every 
age of the world mankind have derived, and will yet derive, 
from a preached gospel, it will be necessary to consider more 
at large, the fitness of the means to the end. 

It is certainly not for us to say, by what various methods 
the wisdom and the power of Almighty God might have pro- 
vided for the spread of the gospel in the world. But this 
we may say, that unless by resorting once more to the al- 
ready abortive channel of tradition, or by the intervention of 
a perpetual miracle, the appointment he hath been pleased 
to make of public preaching of the gospel, is the wisest and 
best, because best adapted to the nature and condition of 
those for whom it is designed. 

For, had it pleased God, that this revelation of his will 
should have been made to all men, in every place and in 
every age of the world — to every generation of men, and to 



144 REVELATION THE FOUNDATION OF FAITH. 

every individual in each generation — we cannot comprehend 
how this could be done, without involving a standing miracle: 
which circumstance, independent of the infringement it 
would be of that freedom which alone constitutes us moral 
agents, must soon cease, from the very nature of things, to 
be miraculous to us; for to apprehensions such as ours, a 
perpetual miracle involves a contradiction. Besides, on the 
plan of a perpetually renewed revelation, "must Christ often 
have suffered since the foundation of the world." 

On the other hand, had tradition again been resorted to for 
the spread, and continuance in the world, of the revelation 
made by the Son of God, all experience went to prove, that 
however high and holy the deposit — however express the 
command, to transmit it down from generation to generation 
— it would speedily have been corrupted, and become as im- 
pure as the channel through which it flowed, as uncertain 
and inefficient as any other legend. 

But now, my brethren, by a fixed revelation of his will, 
attested and verified with a precision which renders criminal 
the obstinacy that will not receive it as the truth of God; and 
by the appointment of public preaching of the word, by per- 
sons having his commission therefor; God hath graciously re- 
moved every difficulty, and wisely provided, that every gene- 
ration as it comes forward on the great theatre of life shall, 
in this respect, be equal — and that to "every nation, and 
kindred, and tongue, and people that dwell on the face of the 
whole earth," the word of this salvation shall thus be sent, 
and all mankind be furnished with the high discoveries and 
holy hope of the gospel of Christ — that high and low, rich 
and poor, bond and free, as they all stand in the same rela- 
tion to God, may alike be partakers of the riches of his grace, 
and of the means and of the hope of eternal life, through 
Jesus Christ our Lord. 

But not only to make known the terms and conditions of 
the gospel for salvation to sinners, is the preaching of the 
word appointed; but to keep alive, also, the impressions of 
divine grace, to convey and confer that grace in the sacra- 
ments of salvation, and to further and help — to instruct and 
build up — the disciples of Christ, in the most holy faith, is 
the office and duty of those "who are put in trust with the 



REVELATION THE FOUNDATION OF FAITH. 145 

gospel." As it also is, to call sinners to repentance, to 
warn the unruly, to reprove the disobedient, to rebuke the 
rebellious, to encourage the timid, to strengthen the feeble 
minded, and to comfort the mourner, "warning every man, 
{says the apostle,) and teaching every man, that we may pre- 
sent every man perfect, in Jesus Christ." 

With so high and holy a purpose, dependent on this pro- 
vision of the wisdom of God for our salvation, the interest we 
all have that it should be encouraged and promoted, is ex- 
actly equal to the consequences which are connected with it. 
And as these are infinite and eternal, most presumptuously 
do those offend against God, and sin against their own souls, 
who needlessly absent themselves from the public appoint- 
ments of religion, or attend upon them without reverence. 
When we consider, moreover, my friends, that "faith" itself 
"eometh by hearing," and that God hath specially promised 
the light and comfort of his Holt Spirit to the devout and 
reverent hearing of his word preached, it might serve to con- 
vince many, who are negligent in this respect, what a risk 
they run, of never "coming to the knowledge of the truth, 
that they may be saved;" and how foolish, and even impious, 
it is, to expect God's blessing, while they neglect the very 
means he has appointed for obtaining it. 

But let me not be misunderstood, as if I confined our duty, 
under the blessing of God's word, to the mere hearing of it 
preached. No, my brethren; what is preached according to 
"the mind of the Spirit," must be retained and acted upon. 
Nor yet, that I confine the influences of the Holt Spirit to 
the word preached. No, my hearers; reading the Scriptures, 
with meditation and prayer, is an excellent and fruitful means 
of grace. Neither our private nor our public religious du- 
ties, are substitutes the one for the other. When they go 
hand in hand together — when, like the Bereans of primitive 
times, we search the Scriptures to see whether what we hear 
preached is the truth of God, and as such receive it; then it 
is, that the full benefit of the gospel is most surely to be ex- 
pected, and is most generally found. 

IV. Fourthly, as the discoveries of the gospel are of divine 
revelation, so is the preaching of the word and the adminis- 
[Vol. i,-*io.] 



!■£§ BEYELATION THE FOUNDATION OF FAITH. 

tration of the gospel by a divine commission — "And bow 
shall they preach, except they be sent?" 

On this point but little would be required to be said, were 
it not for the operation of those dissensions and divisions in 
Christianity, which by length of time, and the established 
habit of thought, and the power of prejudice, and the perti- 
nacity of party feeling, and, I may add, the apathy and in- 
difference of an unbelieving age, have fulfilled the predictions 
of the Author and Finisher of our faith, defaced the beauty 
and simplicity of the gospel, and cut the nerves of revealed 
religion. 

Yet, my hearers, in this, as in all other the appointments 
of heaven for our good, God hath not left himself without 
witness, or placed his creatures under any necessity of erring 
from his way, or of defeating the comfort and assurance de- 
rived from the gospel, by reason of uncertainty in the admin- 
istration of the word of his truth, and the means of his grace. 
By an undeniable appointment of the first preachers of the 
gospel, certainty and assurance were given to the first converts 
to Christianity, that their faith was not built on a cunningly 
devised fable, the contrivance of human wisdom, but on the 
power of God, certified to their senses by the mighty power 
of the Holy Ghost. On this foundation the Church of Christ 
was planted and built up; and on this foundation it must con- 
tinue to the end of the world, or cease to be the Church of 
the living God. For, while faith shall continue to be the 
essence of religion, it must be derived from the same source; 
while revelation shall continue to be the onlv around of faith, 
it must be derived from the word of God; while the word of 
God shall continue supreme for the direction of man in his 
spiritual concerns, it must be certified to his senses, as the 
standard of all duty and of all hope; and, while it shall con- 
tinue to be preached to all nations for the obedience of faith, 
it must be accompanied with the same divine commission 
and authority by which it was verified at the beginning, as 
the truth of God, for man's salvation. Now as faith, consid- 
ered as a religious principle, is inseparable from divine ope- 
ration and divine warrant for what is believed, not only is 
the revelation itself, but all other ministrations connected 
with the religion thus established, dependent for certainty 



REVELATION THE FOUNDATION OF FAITH. 147 

and effect on the same principle. As it is competent to no 
man to declare the will of God without revelation, so neither 
is it competent for any to administer the affairs of Christ's 
kingdom, "except he be sent" — that is, as the apostle evi- 
dently means, except he be duly authorized thereto: a con- 
clusion so clear and so reasonable, and at the same time so 
wise, and so profitable to creatures dependent on the use of 
means for spiritual attainment, as to create wonder that it 
should ever have been, or yet continue to be, overlooked and 
disregarded by Christian people. 

Hence is derived the importance of all the services here to 
be performed this day — the worship of God — his law pro- 
claimed — his word preached — his sacraments administered — 
and his commission transferred to an approved servant, pro- 
fessing to be moved by the Holt Ghost to take upon him 
this office and ministry, but outwardly commissioned for the 
assurance of those to whom he shall minister. What, my 
brethren and hearers, would they all be worth, separate from 
the divine authority, whereby they are certified as the ap- 
pointments of God for your salvation? "How shall they 
preach except they be sent?" 

Such, my brethren and friends, being "the gospel of the 
ever blessed God," which hath reached so far as even unto 
us, bringing with it the grand and profitable discovery of our 
wants, and of God's mercies — and such the appointment of 
his wisdom for continuing the knowledge of his will and the 
help of his grace among men, by the ministry of the word; 
— what becomes us, who are so highly favored, and so richly 
provided for in our greatest interest? Shall it be a dead let- 
ter to us through neglect, or life and power unto salvation, 
through attention? This question it is your part to answer; 
and "I beseech you, by the mercies of God," to lay it near 
your heart. Every thing will depend on the temper and 
spirit with which you consider it. For the apostle tells us. 
that in the preaching of the gospel the ministers of Christ 
"are a savour of life, or a savour of death," according as "the 
word preached is mixed with faith in them that hear it." I 
have met you to-day, my brethren and hearers, in the sim- 
plicity of that gospel in which you stand, and have laid it 
before you, in its first lines, as it were. Shall I then be the 



148 REVELATION THE FOUNDATION OF FAITH. 

6avour of life, or of death, to you, or any of you? This also 
will depend greatly on yourselves; and I pray to God, to help 
you to a right understanding of what may turn, perhaps, on 
the choice of this hour — even your future and eternal con- 
dition. The gospel is your salvation or condemnation, as 
you receive or reject it; you cannot escape from that fixed 
rule by which you must be judged and sentenced everlast- 
ingly. But a little while, my friends, and "he that shall 
come, will come, and will not tarry." He comes to take ac- 
count of his servants, according to what he hath committed 
unto each man's trust. At your hands he will demand an 
improvement of gospel light, gospel privileges, and gospel 
grace — and nothing short of improvement will answer. The 
unprofitable servant, remember, returned his lord's talent 
safe and uninjured; but was consigned to outer darkness be- 
cause he had not made an increase of it. What then must 
be the portion of those, who not only have not improved, but 
Lave abused, wasted and dissipated, profaned and despised, 
this richest gift of God's love? And think me not your 
enemy, my friends, because I thus speak — No: Gooknoweth, 
that for your souls I would spend and be spent — and O that 
I had a tongue of fire, that I might consume every opposing 
thought, and bring every soul now before me, to know the 
gospel of Christ to be "the power of God unto salvation!" 
You are here, my brethren, this day, in the house of God, 
and as the people of God. The everlasting gospel is pro- 
posed to you; and what hindereth, that you should not close 
in with its most gracious offers? "All things are now ready; 
come to the marriage." O begin not "with one consent to 
make excuse, and go away, one to his farm, another to his 
merchandize, and another" to his profession! For there is an 
awful threat in this very gospel, that those who make such 
excuses, shall not taste of the marriage supper of the Lamb. 
Oh! it is a fearful thought, my brethren and hearers, to re- 
flect on the heedlessness and inadvertence of redeemed sinners, 
under this rich provision of the love of God jn Cueist Jesus 
for their salvation! It is a heart-sinking prospect to behold 
the thousands of accountable immortals, who, Gallio like, 
"care for none of these things," but follow the carnal mind 
in its rejection of God, and preference of the world. Yet if 



REVELATION THE FOUNDATION OF FAITH. 149 

we have hearts awakened for ourselves, they must feel for 
the sin deceived multitudes, who madly put away from them 
the words of eternal life. And what they thus feel, they 
must manifest; for there is no middle ground on which we 
can contemplate man in any moment of his existence, other 
than as in the favor, or under the curse of his Maker. 

This, my brethren of the clergy, is the anxious oppressive 
thought, which weighs down the spirit of the ministers of 
Christ, under the apathy and indifference wherewith the gos- 
pel is received. But "whether they will hear, or whether 
they will forbear — necessity is laid upon us; yea, woe be to 
us if we preach not the gospel." Arm yourself, therefore, 
my brother, who will this day be invested with Christ's com- 
mission to preach the gospel and administer the sacraments 
of the grace of God. Arm yourself with a steadfast mind, 
fully and faithfully to administer the trust committed you. You 
have to go forth among this heedless and unconcerned race 
of fallen creatures. You have to rouse them from the lethargy 
of unbelief — to awaken them from the dream of mortality, 
and point their thoughts, their anxieties, their exertions, to 
the realities of another being — and to apply the sanctions of 
eternity to the pursuits and occupations of time. You pro- 
fess to be called of God to this great work. Believing this, 
we this day clothe you with Christ's commission, derived 
from his holy. apostles, to "call sinners to repentance." Com- 
mending you to the grace of God, and exhorting you to 
"make full proof of the ministry," and to bear in mind that 
you have to account for immortal souls; we bid you God 
speed. And may he who hath the remainder of the Spirit, 
and who alone giveth the increase, be with you in your work> 
to the advancement of his glory, the good of his Church, the 
safety, honor, and welfare of his people. 

Now unto God the Father, God the Son, and God the 
Holy Ghost — the only living and true God — be all honor 
and glory, now and forever. 



A SEKMON, 

PREACHED BEFORE THE BIBLE SOCIETY OF NORTH CAROLINA, 
On Sunday, December 12, 1824. 



PEEFACE. 



In presenting the following discourse to the public, no 
other view is entertained, than that of enabling every person 
who chooses to pass upon the question, to have the question 
itself, and not the misrepresentations of either editors or ene- 
mies to found his judgment upon. 

That the view taken of the subject is novel, is, in one sense 
of the word, true; in the more general meaning of that word, 
it is not true. It is novel or new, in that sense only, in which 
it is in opposition to the current in which the public mind 
has long been directed by the tenor of the public or pulpit 
instruction given to it. But it is not novel or new, as respects 
the fundamental and irrefragable principles of that religion, 
on which the hope of man for hereafter is founded; nor yet 
is it novel or new, in the sense of being first presented by the 
author. Hundreds, whose names will never perish, have 
stood forth to stay the plague, and have in substance, though 
not perhaps in manner, advocated the same cause. If these 
publications have not reached this length, the greater the 
pity, and the greater the necessity that the thousands of im- 
mortal souls who live in trust of the integrity of their spirit- 
ual guides, should be informed and induced to examine for 
themselves. But this they will not do, so long as those td 
whom they naturally look up, are themselves the advocates 
of a specious but dangerous error. And when an erroneous 
principle has received the sanction of great names, and nu- 
merous associations, it is next to impossible to stem the tide 
of popular prejudice. Yet the obligation is not thereby les- 
sened on the part of those, whose exclusive duty it is to deal 
with divine truth — who in the emphatic language of Scrip- 
ture "are put in trust with the gospel." 

On this ground the author rests, for the defence of the 



152 PKEFACE. 

course he has taken in the following discourse. He has long- 
lamented the injurious tendency of the favorite principle of 
the Bible Societies in question. He thinks he has witnessed 
its dangerous, because irreligious, effect; and he took the op- 
portunity afforded by the Anniversary Sermon, to lay before 
this Bible Society, and all who should be present, what he 
believes to be a just view of the subject, without once reflect- 
ing on any collateral propriet}^. 

It has been attempted on former occasions, as well as on 
the present, to deny the interpretation given to the words 
"without note or comment." But that it is the only true in- 
terpretation — the only practical meaning of the phrase — is 
evident, from the unanimity with which all descriptions of 
Religionists adopt it; and even the enemies of Christianity 
subscribe to it. It leaves the field free for their respective 
emissaries to give their separate and opposite constructions 
to the one faith of the gospel. Yet certain it is — Emperors,, 
and Kings, and Princes, and nobles, and opposing religions- 
denominations, amalgamated into Bible Societies^ to the con- 
trary notwithstanding — certain it is, there is but one saving 
interpretation of divine truth, one prescribed channel of 
hope, and means of grace, revealed to fallen man. 

That the interpretation of the words "without note or com- 
ment," adhered to by the author of the Sermon, is in deed 
and truth, that of the Societies themselves, he offers to sub- 
mit to the following test: 

Let any Bible Society, not an auxiliary — let the great mo- 
ther of all, the British and Foreign Bible Society — be con- 
vened, to decide on which of the various denominations of 
Christians shall be authorized by them, as a body, to inter- 
pret the faith, and administer the sacraments of the gospel — 
yea, to present some single commentator as a safe guide to. 
the ignorant and unlearned — and then see whether they can 
agree. If they can, or, if in the mind of any reasonable man 
there is the remotest probability of it — on the contrary, if it 
does not split them into shivers, — then is the author wrong 
in the view he has taken of it. Otherwise, he must retain 
the meaning he has annexed to the talismanic words "with- 
out note or comment." Let the North Carolina Bible Society 
try it at their next general meeting, and thus prove or dis- 



PREFACE. 153 

prove what this enemy to Bible Societies has had the temer- 
ity to call in question. This will refute the Sermon better 
than all the railings of men who vainly think that the truth 
of God is thj creature of human opinion, and to take its cha- 
racter from the fluctuations of such a standard. If theirs i& 
the truth of this controversy, let them meet this ordeal. 

Of the injurious effect of this principle upon religion at 
large, in lowering the importance of the Bible, lessening the 
reverence due to the sacraments of the gospel, and encour- 
aging the infidel notions exposed in the body of the Sermon, 
the author, unhappily, can desire no more striking proof, 
than the sentiments expressed in the first of that series of 
newspaper publications, which followed the delivery of the 
sermon.* 

As it seems to be the determination of many, who write 
and speak on this subject, to denounce the author as an ene- 
my to the distribution of the Scriptures, notwithstanding his 
express declarations to the contrary, he thinks proper to re- 
peat, most solemnly, that the charge is wholly unfounded. 
He is opposed only to the erroneous and injurious principle, 
on which the greater number and most efficient, but not all, 
Bible Societies act: there being, both in Europe and Ameri- 
ca, Bible Societies, who are operating with zeal and effect, 
in disseminating the word of God to all who are in want, 
both Heathen and Christian, accompanied with the authority 
of God, and with the sacraments of consolation and assu- 
rance. And nothing but the poverty and depression of the 
Episcopal Church in this Diocese has prevented the attempt 
to unite her exertions with them, in so sacred a cause. 

Nor yet is the author opposed to the reading of the Scrip- 
tures without a commentator, as is falsely charged against 
him. On the contrary, he has many witnesses, how earnest- 
ly and repeatedly he presses the study of the word of God 
upon his hearers; and it is his invariable rule, when consulted 

*The following are the sentiments referred to. "Nor do we consider the 
diversity of opinion among men on the subject of religion, as an evil to be 
lamented. All that is necessary to produce happiness under such circum- 
stances is, that men should think charitably of each other, and agree to differ, 
believing that every one who professes himself to be guided by the principles 
of the gospel, leads a good life, is sincere in his profession,, and. will here- 
after be approved by his Maker." 



154 PREFACE. 

what commentator to begin the reading of the Scriptures 
with, to answer, none; recommending to all, to be first well 
grounded in the Scriptures themselves, by reading, medita- 
tion, and prayer, when a sound and judicious commentator 
may be helpful; but previous to which, he will only lead the 
beginner into his own particular views, whatever these may 
be, so that, if he happens to be right, it is not understand- 
ingly — he may easily be shaken; if he happens to be wrong, 
he is fortified in error, and cannot readily be set right. 

It is due to the subject, and to the public also, to state, 
that the short compass of a sermon is inadequate to the full 
developement of the principle and its consequences. The 
author, therefore, confined himself to those objections which 
lie most level to every apprehension, and can be most readily 
understood and felt by everv serious Christian. 

JOHN S. RAYENSCROFT. 

Raleigh, Dec. 24, 1824. 



A SERMON, 

BEFORE THE BIBLE SOCIETY OF NORTH CAROLINA. 



Acts vhi. 30, 31. 

"And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the Prophet Esaias; 
and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? And he said, How can I, 
except some man should guide me?" 

The circumstances which precede and follow the relation 
of this fact, in the history of our religion, for the details of 
which I refer you to the chapter itself, point out the connex- 
ion of my text with the more special purpose of this day. 

Favored as we are, my brethren and hearers, with the 
word of life, with those "Scriptures which are able to make 
us wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ 
Jesus," it would be a libel on our Christian name, were 
neither wish or effort manifested, to supply the manna of 
souls to the needy and the destitute. From this reproach, 
however, the Christian community has long been released; 
and, as if to atone for former remissness, seems now to be 
absorbed, as it were, in the one object of disseminating the 
Scriptures "to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and 
people under heaven." And what heart that circulates 
Christian blood, but must prompt both to approve and to aid 
a purpose so divine? What Christian, who has himself 
"tasted of the good word of God, and the powers of the world 
to come," but must wish and pray, and, if consistent, strive 
to promote that blessed and promised period, "when the 
knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth as the waters 
cover the great deep." 

That a purpose so glorious — a plan so beneficent — should 
have captivated the public mind, and rushed forward to its 
accomplishment, with an impetus which left far behind those 
more sober considerations, which alone can give effect and 
permanence to the good intended, is not to be wondered at, 
my hearers; for it is the very nature of high wrought public 
feeling to outstrip reflection — it is of the essence of general 



156 A SEEMON BEFORE THE BIBLE SOCIETY 

as well as personal enthusiasm, that it cannot be trammelled 
with details. Of the Bible cause, therefore, it may be said, 
as was happily said of a similar excitement, (that which pro- 
duced the crusades for the recovery of the holy land,) "a 
nerve was touched of exquisite feeling, and it vibrated to the 
heart of Christendom." Nor yet is it to be wondered at, 
that the same cause should have produced a like oversight 
of those precautions, which are indispensable to the success 
of every moral effort. 

But it is not to excitement alone, that we are to ascribe 
the adoption of what is here considered an error, in the 
original principle of the most extensive Bible Society in the 
world, and recognized by the one I am now addressing, in 
the second article of its Constitution. To the unhappy di- 
visions in the Christian world must we, in great part, attribute 
the currency — I had almost said, the consecration, — of the 
dogma, "that the distribution of the Bible, without note or 
comment, is the only just principle on which to disseminate 
the Scriptures of our faith." 

This specious position, while it seemed to give to the word 
of God that pre-eminence which it challenges, as exclusively 
saving truth, and to leave, also, exclusively to the Spirit of 
God, which inspired them, the effect to be produced on the 
hearts and lives of those to whom it was sent, presented to 
Christians of every denomination, one point, where they 
could all meet. And as it recognized, what is considered, 
the leading Protestant principle, "that the Bible is the re- 
ligion of Protestants," less consideration than it deserved 
was given to the principle itself. Great and good men of 
every persuasion, sick of the dissensions which deform the 
fair face of Christianity, were glad to find one object, in the 
forwarding of which all could cordially unite — which promised 
the extension of blessings beyond all price — and in the mag- 
nificent issue of an evangelized world, held out the fulfilment 
of their daily prayer, "thy kingdom come." 

Under the influence of such feelings, the Bible itself was 
overlooked, in the clear directions which may be drawn from 
it, as to the only safe and effectual manner of disseminating 
its saving knowledge: and a mark of reproach was fastened 
upon all who ventured to call in question the soundness of 



OF KOKTH CAROLINA. 157 

the favorite notion. Their sentiments are held in contempt, 
as narrow and bigoted. Their authorities and arguments are 
met, not by reason and Scripture, but by splendid details of 
Bible society extensions — by gorgeous declamation of Heathen 
nations furnished with the bread of life — and by overwhelm- 
ing catalogues of the names enlisted, and the millions dis- 
bursed, for this despotic favorite. 

Yet, my brethren and hearers, the march of truth, though 
slow, is sure, and her victory certain. Examination of the 
subject has given a juster direction to the minds of many; 
and, though they cannot equal the numbers of those who 
follow the direction of the first impetus, they are sensible of 
a progressive accession of strength, and look forward with 
confidence to that period, when principles, equally impreg- 
nable with revelation itself, will be owned and acted upon; 
and to this they look with the greater confidence, because, 
though inconsiderately and injudiciously charged with being 
opposed to the spread of the Scriptures, they yield to none 
in the sincere desire and earnest endeavor to place in every 
hand, and instill into every heart in this sin-struck world, 
"the saving knowledge of God, and of Jesus Christ, whom 
he hath sent." 

In these prefatory remarks — very different, perhaps, from 
what you have heretofore been accustomed to on sucli an oc- 
casion — my object is, to present the subject to your thoughts 
in a, connexion in which you have not been taught to view 
it. My wish and intention is^ to lead you to the serious 
consideration of the purpose' for which you are associated, 
for which your affections are enlisted, and your contributions 
expected; to compare the declared principle of your opera- 
tions, with the instrument you have undertaken to wield; to 
estimate the means used, in connexion with the end pro- 
posed; and by the result of such an examination, to place 
your feelings under the control of your understandings, as 
the only safe principle of moral conduct. 

I might, indeed, my hearers, have taken the beaten track, 
with more ease to myself, and perhaps with greater satisfac- 
tion to many of you. It presents a wide field for affecting 
declamation, a plenteous magazine of facts and figures to 
work upon the feelings — yea, a well furnished store house, 



158 A SERMON BEFORE THE BIBLE SOCIETY 

from which to draw materials to confirm the prejudices of 
an erroneous judgment. But such is not my office — such is 
not the purpose wherefore I am "separated unto the gospel 
of God." A higher tribunal will pass upon the faithfulness 
of this day, both to you and to me. Under a present sense, 
then, of the awful account we have mutually to give in, let 
us now speak and hear. 

"And Philip ran thither to him, and heard liim read the 
prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou 
readest? And he said, How can I, except some man should 
guide me." 

From these words I propose to show, that the principle 
recognized and acted upon, by this and other Bible Societies, 
"that the Scriptures are exclusively sufficient for their own 
interpretation," is unfounded and dangerous, and, ultimately, 
subversive of all revealed religion. 

I. First, from the structure of the Scriptures themselves. 

The purpose of revelation being to bring to our knowledge 
things divine and spiritual, and which otherwise are entirely 
out of our reach, the language made use of must be appro- 
priate to the subject matter of the communication, and to 
our capacity of apprehension. And since there is an infinite 
disproportion between the things themselves and the capa- 
city of men, the use of figure or metaphor is resorted to, to 
convey this knowledge. Under the letter of Scripture, there- 
fore, is couched that spiritual meaning and application, which 
constitutes their value and importance to us as saving truth. 
Hence we find, that while the perceptive parts of revelation 
are plain and perspicuous, so as to be immediately appre- 
hended, those which are doctrinal partake of different degrees 
of c earness, according to the nature of the doctrine incul- 
cated; and those which are mysterious, are clothed in an ob- 
scurity which even "the angels desire to look into." Yet they 
are all made the subject matter of our faith and obedience, 
my hearers, and operative, according to our diligence, in pre- 
paring us for still higher and brighter spiritual attainment*. 

Unless, therefore, it can be made out, that the mysterious 
and obscure parts of revelation can be safely and truly inter- 
preted by those which are clear, (for that is the amount of 
the principle acted upon as fundamental, by the Bible Socie- 



OF NORTH CAROLINA. 159 

ties in question,) the very structure of the Scriptures shows 
the fallacy of the proposition. 

On this point, which is of great importance to a just view 
of the subject, and, I presume, new to many of you, the ob- 
servations of a prelate of high character for ability and piety, 
are so clear and convincing, that I shall lay them before you 
in his own words: 

"The principle (says the writer) of explaining those parts 
of holy Scripture which appear more obscure, by those which 
are manifest and clear, involves a very serious inconvenience. 
It is obvious that, in the sacred word, different degrees of 
clearness and obscurity can have arisen only from the vari- 
ous nature of the subject matter. In promulgating a design 
so vast, comprehensive and profound, as the design of Chris- 
tianity, what St. Paul terms "the deep things of God" must 
frequently come into view. In every enunciation of these 
great mysteries, an awful obscurity must unquestionably 
overhang the subject; still, however, all the instances may 
not be equally inaccessible: some may reward research, though 
others may baffle investigation. But if passages of obvious 
plainness are to limit the import of profounder passages, it 
is manifest that all profounder passages must be at least com- 
paratively, and in many cases totally, neglected. On the 
assumption that the profounder and the plainer language re- 
fer to the same subject, and express the same, or nearly the 
same idea, it would be difficult, perhaps, to defend the wis- 
dom, and sometimes even the humanity of the Holt Spirit, 
who indited the Scriptures; for why employ dark and doubt- 
ful sayings where obvious and familiar sayings would have 
answered every reasonable purpose? But the fact is far other- 
wise. Simple truths are simply expressed, majestic truths 
are clothed in appropriate majesty of language, and mysteri- 
ous truths are invested with that sacred veil which they alone 
may venture to penetrate who are at once illuminated by 
Christian grace, animated by Christian love, and regulated 
by Christian humility. Such spirits are invited, and expect- 
ed, to search out the wonders of God's word, no less than the 
works of his creation. But what an obstacle will be opposed 
to their researches, what a bar to their spiritual improve- 
ment, if the highest truths are to be measured by the lowest 



160 A SERMON -BEFOKE THE BIBLE SOCIETY 

standard! If the depths are to be sounded with a plummet, 
which can scarcely reach the bottom of the shallows!" "But 
a still more serious consequence may be dreaded. The 
clearer passages of Scripture will, in general, be those which 
recognize principles deducible from nature and providence; 
and, by parity of reason, the obscurer passages will com- 
monly be those in which pure matter of revelation is pro- 
mulgated. If, therefore, it be adopted as the leading prin- 
ciple of interpretation, that the sense of this latter class of 
passages should be limited or settled by the sense of the 
former class, it may be reckoned upon, that through the con- 
tinual application of this rule the appropriate and peculiar 
truths of revelation will gradually be absorbed in mere natu- 
ral verities." "The question may now be asked, have not 
these consequences been actually realized? Is it not but too 
certain, that a diminishing scale of interpretation detracts 
from the fullness of Christian belief; and that where the less 
appropriate and peculiar parts of revelation are made the 
limits of all the rest, the system commonly terminates in 
Socinianism; perhaps in something, if possible, more re- 
moved from the semblance of Christianity?" 

Thus writes the present Bishop of Limerick, not on the 
subject of Bible Societies, but upon the principle which dis- 
tinguishes the British from the reformed continental Churches; 
and it is for the observation and experience of those who now 
hear me, to apply the reasoning, and to consider whether 
similar effects are not following to us, and whether, upon the 
whole, the reverence due to the Bible as the word of God, is 
not declining, under the operation of this unwise and un- 
warranted assumption? 

But it may be said, since the canon of Scripture is com- 
plete, and admitted by all to be in itself sufficient for every 
Christian purpose, what more can be needed? To this it is 
replied by a Christian father of the fifth century, "That, from 
the very depth of holy Scripture, all men cannot receive it 
in one and the same sense. One person interprets the divine 
oracle in one manner; another person in a manner totally 
different; insomuch, that from the same source, almost as 
many opinions may be elicited as there are men. Therefore, 
amidst so great perplexity of such various error, it is ex- 



OF NORTH CAROLINA. 161 

tremely necessary that the line of prophetic and apostolic 
interpretation be regulated by the standard of ecclesiastical 
and catholic judgment." 

To close this head of my discourse, I would observe, that 
if the foregoing arguments needed any confirmation, it is to 
be found in the order pursued by the Divine Wisdom in 
making known his will to his creatures. Under each dis- 
pensation of his grace, the revelation made has been accom- 
panied by authorized and accredited interpreters and admin- 
istrators of spiritual things. In no case is the word of God 
disjoined from the Church of God — the grace of God from 
the sacraments of the Church — and the end proposed and 
promised, separated from the means provided and command- 
ed. All of which the present system keeps entirely out of 
view; and is, therefore, so far, at variance with the wisdom 
of God. 

II. Secondly, the fallacy of the principle will be further 
evidenced by the condition of man as a fallen creature. 

As such, his tendency has uniformly been to corrupt reve- 
lation — to bring it down to his own unholy standard. "The 
natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God." 
With difficulty does he retain them even when received, and 
slowly do they grow and increase, under the most diligent 
instruction. What, then, are we reasonably to expect when 
he is deprived of these advantages, and thrown back upon 
himself, to search out the mystery of godliness from the un- 
aided word? What must be the result, but either total ne- 
glect, or as many and various systems of belief, as there are 
varieties of mental capacity? 

Unless, therefore, it can be shown that it is a matter of 
perfect indifference what system of religious opinions we 
draw from the Scriptures; and that we are equally safe, as 
regards another life, under an erroneous, as under a true in- 
terpretation of the word of life; the condition of man as a 
fallen creature, in connexion with the structure of the Scrip- 
tures, is yet further in opposition to the principle in question. 
For, as the apostle tells us, there is but "one faith," or sys- 
tem of saving truth, to all Christians; and when we further 
consider, that to man religion is a forced state, that is, not 
his natural state, the calculation is very wild, that he will 
[Vol. 1,— *11.] 



162 A SERMON BEEOEE THE BIBLE SOCLETT 

seek and find it in the naked knowledge of the facts and 
doctrines of the Scriptures. But, 

III. Thirdly, from the agency of the Holy Spirit in giving 
effect to the word of God, the principle under consideration 
is shown to be erroneous, dangerous, and eventually destruc- 
tive of all revealed religion. 

ISTo doctrine of Christianity is more firmly established, 
than that of the exclusive necessity of spiritual illumination 
to a right understanding and application of the Scriptures; 
and it is ecjually sure that the Holt Spirit is given to lead 
us into all needful truth. Is it thence to be assumed, how- 
ever, that the simple volume is necessarily accompanied by 
the Spirit of God, and that every impression made on the 
mind of the reader of that volume, is "the witness of the 
Spirit" to the truth and certainty of the interpretation he 
comes to? Have we any warrant, from what is revealed to 
us of the connexion of spiritual influence with the written 
word of God, to believe that such is the agency of the Holy 
Ghost upon uninspired men? Yet such is unavoidably the 
extent to which the favorite principle of this and other Bible 
Societies carries the essential doctrine of Spiritual influence. 

According to the principle, the Bible is to be exclusively 
interpreted from itself: according to the doctrine of the Scrip- 
tures, no saving knowledge and application of divine truth 
can be had, but by the operation of the Holy Ghost. It 
therefore follows, if the principle be true, that the effect pro- 
duced through the word of God read, must be received as 
the immediate dictate of the Spirit by the person under its- 
influence, and, indeed, by all others. 

This, it appears to me, is the unavoidable conclusion, as- 
suming the principle to be well founded. Whether it is in- 
tended to be carried this far, may reasonably be doubted; 
but whether intended or not, an awful responsibility is in- 
curred, by sanctioning so dangerous a position, on a subject 
of such vital interest, by such an imposing weight of charac- 
ter as Europe and America have leagued in its favor. 

With whatever intention, however, a more erroneous no- 
tion could not be suggested; for it goes the whole length of 
making every man's private imagination the test to him of 
saving truth, and sanctions the destructive, but prevailing, 



OF NORTH CAROLINA. 163 

i 

notion, that the discordant and opposite views of Christian 
faith and practice which deform the gospel, have all alike 
the witness of the Spirit of God that they are the truths of 
God, and equally to be relied upon for salvation. But is 
such the doctrine of the religion we profess? Is the hope 
given to man, by the revelation of Jesus Christ, built upon 
so sandy a foundation? Are its fundamental doctrines, wise 
directions, and bright examples, of so vague and indetermi- 
nate a character as to give countenance to so broad a delu- 
sion? I ask Christian men — I ask men who stand forward 
as Christian teachers — I ask men who say they reverence the 
Bible, and wish to present it as the best of all gifts to their 
fellow-men; and I beseech them to meet the question, not 
under the influence of assaulted feeling — not under the cal- 
culation of party interests — but under the solemn influence 
of that account which we must all give in to God: in parti- 
cular, I intreat those who are capable of embracing the ar- 
gument in its extent — who are competent to try its truth and * 
Soundness — to reflect, that they owe to others, not so gifted, 
the benefit of their counsel and example; and that, however 
popular an error may be, it is not, therefore, the less, but the 
more, injurious, and demands the united efforts of the wise 
and good to counteract its effects. In the case before us, it 
appears to your preacher, that the best interests of pure and 
undefiled religion are at stake — that they are compromised 
on grounds most difficult to meet, because ostensibly fortified 
with zeal for the interests of the Redeemer's kingdom. Yet 
there is a zeal without knowledge, which is to be guarded 
against, and the surest guard must forever be a close adhe- 
rence to that system of divine truth, and prescribed minis- 
trations, which God hath indissolubly .joined together, for the 
assurance of faith to man in the hope of the gospel. 

Under the influence of this principle, I have taken the 
view of the subject now submitted, conscious that I throw 
myself in the face of high authority, of strong prejudice, and 
inconsiderate feeling. But what then? If this is never to be 
done, where is the stopping place for error to be found? And 
if the ministers of the sanctuary shrink from this duty, who 
else shall stand in the gap? On this, and on all other points, 
I hold and act upon the principle, that the temperate arraign- 



164 A SEEMON BEFOEE THE BIBLE SOCIETY 

ment of what we believe to be error at the bar of public opin- 
ion, is the truest friendship to those who entertain the error, 
and the only lawful means of defeating its influence. I speak 
not a word this day, my hearers, against the free and full 
distribution of the word of God. No, God forbid! I speak 
only against an unfounded and dangerous principle, which 
Bible Societies have adopted and consecrated, and declared 
unalterable, in the articles of their constitutiou. I speak not 
a word to repress your zeal and liberality in the cause of re- 
ligion; but, according to my poor ability, to give to that zeal 
a right direction, and to make that liberality fruitful and 
lasting in its effects; to preserve it from evaporating in hypo- 
thetical good; and to return it back into your own bosoms 
tenfold, in the happy fruits of sound knowledge and pure re- 
ligion, instilled and established in your own hearts, in the 
hearts of your children, your neighbors, your countrymen, 
and the world. This must all be done from the Bible. It is 
our only warrant — it is our only weapon. The Bible is alone 
sufficient to heal the divisions among Christians; but this 
surely never can come to pass, under the operation of a prin- 
ciple which sanctions division without limit, and consequent- 
ly ends in the subversion of all revealed religion. Nor can 
it be brought to pass, by carelessly casting out a dollar, or 
an hundred or a thousand of dollars, to aid in printing and cir- 
culating the Scriptures. No: to obtain this blessed end, the 
Bible must be imprinted upon our own hearts, and reprinted 
in our lives — its types must be set in the hearts of our chil- 
dren, and the same impression struck off, in each succeeding 
generation. There is no new version, no new edition, of the 
spirit of religion — "it is the same, yesterday, to-day, and for 
ever;" and thus must its triumphs extend, from families to 
kindred, to country, to the universe. It is the order which 
God, "the only wise God," hath appointed; which he hath 
promised to bless: it is the order of all other events, under 
the control of his providence: and only by conforming there- 
to, can we entertain a reasonable hope of success. Let us 
not, then, depart from it, in the great concern of our own 
souls, and the souls of others, however specious the theory 
may seem. Let our liberality in the things of God be regu- 
lated by the terms of that trust-deed, whereby they are com- 



OF NORTH CAROLINA. 165 

mitted to our stewardship; and our sense of its true meaning 
and interpretation be guided and directed by the universal 
consent of that body of holy men, who heard with their own 
ears the exposition of those to whom were committed the 
words of eternal life, by the Great Head of the Church. Then 
shall the Bible, indeed, speak "the mind of the Spirit" and 
the gospel be found "the power of God unto salvation to 
every one that believeth." 

In conclusion, I recur to my text. It has been kept out of 
view — but not, I trust, out of remembrance — by the course 
of the argument. Its application, however, cannot be mis- 
taken. 

"Understandest thou what thou readest?" This is a ques- 
tion, my friends, which enters into the very essence of spirit- 
ual attainment from the Scriptures. Religion is, throughout, 
a reasonable service. Nothing connected with its hope, and 
its comfort, its assurance and its reward, is divested of this 
distinguishing feature. Nor can these rightly be claimed or 
entertained, without rendering a reason for them. 

Suppose the Scriptures in the hands of one, of whom, to our 
shame as a Christian nation be it spoken, we have multitudes. 
He can read, perhaps; yet with such incoherence, that atten- 
tion is absorbed in mastering letters and syllables. "What to 
him is the word of life? It is a task book — a work of labor 
— which, after a few efforts, he abandons. Suppose this 
done away — that he reads fluently, yet without intellectual 
cultivation: what can he gather, be} 7 ond the law written in 
his own and every other heart by the finger of God, except 
a mass of vague and undigested notions, equally at war with 
reason and religion? "Understandest thou what thou readest?" 
must ever bring from him, if he is an honest inquirer after 
truth, the answer of the Ethiopian — "How can I, except 
some man should guide me?" My Christian hearers, I think 
I have but to appeal to your own experience on this subject. 
With all your advantages, understand you what you read, in 
your daily application to the Scriptures? Are there no 
depths which you cannot fathom — no mysteries which you 
cannot penetrate — no connexions which you cannot make 
out? How, then, are those into whose hands they fall, in 
fact, as a- revelation; and who are refused all guidance, but 



166 A SERMON BEFOKE THE BIBLE SOCrETT, &C. 

from the word itself — how are they to compass what is at- 
tainable "of the length, and breadth, and depth, and height, of 
God's rich redeeming love;" and trace the connexion and de- 
pendence of prophecy, promise, and fulfilment, as bound up 
with the hope of man: and in this boundless field of heaven's 
mercy, find "the strait ard narrow way which leadeth unto 
life?" Does heaven warn us needlessly "that few there be 
which find it?" Are there no parallel paths marked out by 
the invention of men, which an uninstructed traveller mav 
mistake for the King's high-way — the royal road, trodden by 
the King of kings himself, in faith and obedience, and marked 
with the assurance of a verifiable signature? Are there 
no cross roads and intricate divergencies, all professing to 
point to the City of Eefuge, which are, nevertheless, un- 
marked and unverifiable, unless by a counterfeit signature; 
and, though much trodden, are yet, comparatively, but newly 
opened? Is there no need of a pilot — an instructer, a guide, 
through this labyrinth? Are we to turn loose the ignorant 
in Christian lands, and the Heathen in Pagan lands, to 
wander unguided through the mysteries of revelation — op- 
pressed by its discoveries — uncomforted by its ministrations 
— and deprived of those authorized guides and interpreters 
of his word, whom God hath bound to faithfulness at the 
peril of their own souls? Xo, my Christian brethren, let us 
hear them calling unto us in the words of the Ethiopian in 
my text — "How can I, except some man should guide me?" 
and, with the word of God, send them the Church, and the 
ministers, and the sacraments of God. Then shall the end 
and the means correspond, and the ravishing spectacle be 
presented to an admiring and adoring universe, of a redeemed 
world, furnished with the light of life, and made wise unto 
salvation, with one heart and one mouth ascribing "glory, 
honor, and dominion, unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, 
and to the Lamb for ever." 



A SERMON 

ON THE STUDY AND INTERPRETATION OF THE SCRIPTURES. 



John v. 39. 
'Search the Scriptures." 



Much, my brethren, depends upon the importance we at- 
tach to the Bible, and the unqualified dependence we place 
in it, as the infallible word of God. Much also depends upon 
the disposition with which, and the manner in which, we 
consult the divine oracles, to draw from them that "know- 
ledge which is able to make us wise unto salvation." That 
they are the well spring of life and hope to fallen man, and 
the infallible rule of his faith and practice to every Christian, 
is assented to by all. Yet that the Scriptures are so framed, 
that we may pervert them to support and defend almost any 
preconceived system of doctrine, is equally evident, from the 
actual condition of the Christian world. Hence the great 
importance of sound and correct views of divine truth, and 
of such information as shall render the duty enjoined in my 
text both pleasant and profitable, and guard you against the 
awful ruin of building your hope for hereafter upon perverted 
Scripture. And hence my duty, rendered more imperious 
by recent circumstances, to take up this subject for your edi- 
fication, and, as I humbly trust, for the edification of many, 
on a subject of vital interest to all, embarrassed by many 
specious, but fatal errors. 

I shall therefore, in the 

First place, lay before you some observation's calculated 
to direct you to a safe and satisfactory compliance with the 
Christian duty of searching the Scriptures. 

Secondly, I shall endeavor to obviate some prevailing and 
popular errors on this fundamental subject. And then 

Conclude with some plain and practical inferences from 
the whole. And may the Spirit of truth preside over my 
meditations; and your attention. 

"Search the Scriptures." 



168 ON THE STUDY AND 

I. First, I am to lay before you some observations, calcu- 
lated to direct you to a safe and satisfactory compliance with 
the Christian duty of searching the Scriptures. 

1. As the Scriptures to which our blessed Lord referred, 
in giving this direction to those to whom the words were 
spoken, were the Scriptures of the Old Testament — that tes- 
timony of Jesus, which God was pleased to commit to the 
keeping of the Old Testament Church; — we are fully war- 
ranted in asserting the identity of the two dispensations, and 
in considering the New Testament as perfective of the old. 
This is a point of great importance, my brethren, to any ra- 
tional fulfilment of the duty enjoined in the text; inasmuch 
as by separating the two dispensations, we neutralize both, 
and expose ourselves to every variety of deception which in- 
terested ingenuity can draw from a partial view of divine 
truth. To search the Scriptures, therefore, to any profitable 
purpose, we must begin with the foundation, and regularly 
go on to the finishing of the superstructure; and "comparing 
spiritual things with spiritual" — that is, a recorded purpose 
with its exact fulfilment — obtain that full conviction of the 
infallible truth and divine authority of revelation, which is 
indispensable to any thing worthy the name of rational assu- 
rance, in working out our everlasting salvation. For, as no- 
thing can induce us to commence this work but the full per- 
suasion, drawn from God's public message to the world by 
his only begotten Son, that God invites and commands us to 
it; so nothing can encourage to perseverence, amid the trials 
and disappointments of our condition, but an equally fixed 
reliance on the promised guidance and help of the Holy 
Spirit. From first to last, my brethren, "we walk by faith 
and not by sight." And faith, to deserve the name, and be- 
come a foundation for eternity, must, in its commencement, 
and throughout its whole progress, rest upon a divine and 
verifiable warrant — "Thus saith the Lokd." 

2. To search the Scriptures, however, does not mean sim- 
ply to read them, and acquaint ourselves with the facts and 
doctrines therein contained. Hundreds have done, and yet 
are doing this, without profit. The duty enjoined and under 
consideration, involves the careful examination and compar- 
ison, not only of the several parts with each other, but of 



INTERPRETATION OF THE SCRIPTURES. 169 

each part with the whole. This is evident, not only from the 
reason of the thing, and the general purpose of revelation, 
but also from the particular circumstances under which the 
words were spoken. The unbelieving Jews, having rejected 
the evidence of John the Baptist to the person and office of 
Jesus as the promised Messiah, and resisted the testimony 
of our Lord's own miraculous power in attestation of the 
same fact, are by him referred to their Scriptures. "Search 
the Scriptures," said he; "for in them ye think ye have eter- 
nal life, and they are they which testify of me." In which 
reference to the Scriptures, it must be clear that our Lord 
meant such a careful consideration and comparison of what 
was foretold by the prophets concerning the Messiah, with 
the events then fulfilling before their eyes, as must be suffi- 
cient for correcting their erroneous prejudices, and for pro- 
ducing a rational conviction of the truth. In like manner, 
my hearers, must we lay aside our prejudices, and with sin- 
cere and ready minds desire the whole truth, if we would 
search the Scriptures to advantage, and draw from them the 
bread of life. 

3. Another consideration, my brethren and hearers, of the 
last importance to a safe and profitable fulfilment of this duty, 
is a just view of the unity of Scripture — that is, of the con- 
nexion and dependence of all the parts with and upon each 
other, and of the end and design of the communication, as a 
whole. Of this unity, I have no hesitation in asserting, that 
it is as complete as that of its glorious Author. "The Scrip- 
ture cannot be broken," says our blessed Lord. It cannot 
be taken to pieces, and made to subserve systems of conflict- 
ing doctrine and practice in the religious world. This must 
be evident to the slightest reflection, from its acknowledged 
purpose, as a standard — an infallible measure — of saving 
truth; which it never could be, were it allowable and safe to 
take a part here and a part there, in order to patch up the 
semblance of a support for those many inventions which pre- 
sumptuous men have sought out. 

As this is a cardinal point, my brethren, standing upon 
such undeniable grounds of authority and reason, th u none 
can excusably be ignorant of it, or neglect it, I feel bound to 
press it upon your most serious attention and observance; 



170 ON THE STUDY AND 

and this the rather, because it is beyond contradiction, that 
a broken Scripture is the root of those divisions which deface 
and defeat Christianity, and the prevailing snare in which 
the ignorant and unwary are taken captive "by the cunning 
craftiuess of men who lie in wait to deceive them;" and be- 
cause it is equally beyond dispute, that the carelessness or 
easiness of public opinion is yielding to the assertion of a 
contrary doctrine by those whose foundation can only be 
found in a partial or mutilated view of divine truth. 

In searching the Scriptures, therefore, their unity is never 
to be lost sight of; for it is this alone which can preserve us 
from being led away by false doctrine, and seduced into the 
specious, but dangerous delusion, of marking out a plan of 
salvation for ourselves, at variance, in some of its features, 
with that which heaven has revealed and prescribed. 

From this sacred unity also, duly estimated and applied, 
we learn, that no conflicting or opposite doctrines can equally 
claim the warrant of God's holy word. If, therefore, we are 
at any time inclined to construe any part of the Scriptures in 
such wise as to conflict with any other part, or with its gen- 
eral import, we may be sure beforehand that such construc- 
tion is, to say the least, doubtful, and not to be relied upon 
as an article of the faith. Deep and mature examination is 
necessary before we commit our souls on the truth and cer- 
tainty of a doctrine which has any thing opposed to it, in the 
letter of Scripture even — to say nothing of the general tenor 
and design of that blessed communication to sinners. All 
reasonings, however specious, must go for nought, if in their 
result the Scripture shall be broken, and the unity of its 
purpose and meaning be severed or perverted. 

Bearing in mind then, my brethren, these three essential 
rules, to-wit: the identity of the Old and New Testament dis- 
jiensations; the careful comparison of the more obscure de- 
lineations of the gospel contained in the Law and the Prophets, 
with their fulfilment and completion in the person and doc- 
trine of Jesus Chkist, and the teaching of his apostles, and 
the unity of Scripture in the connexion and dependence of 
all its parts as a whole; you will be furnished to fulfil the 
duties enjoined in my text with advantage: while at the same 
time, you will be guarded against the ruinous influence of a 



INTERPRETATION OF THE SCRIPTURES. 171 

partial and unconnected view of divine truth, that fruitful 
source of all the divisions which deform Christianitv, and 
which encourage and increase the infidelity of a "world that 
lieth in wickedness." 

Profitable, however, as these rules unquestionably are, and 
essential to any just and saving view of the word of life? 
there is yet one more of the deepest interest, and without 
attention to which, those before mentioned are neutralized, 
if not defeated. And that is the rule of interpretation of 
Scripture, as the one standard of the one faith of the gospel. 
Now, my brethren and hearers, while it is indubitably cer- 
tain, that "holy Scripture containeth all things necessary t'o 
salvation, so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be 
proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it 
should be believed as an article of the faith, or be thought 
requisite or necessary to salvation," as it is expressed in the 
sixth article of the Church; it is nevertheless equally certain, 
that uniformity of belief and practice among men — in other 
words, Christian unity — must depend upon the interpretation 
given to the Scriptures — upon the sense and application 
made of the doctrines and precepts therein revealed. It is, 
therefore, of the last importance to the very being of the 
Scriptures as the only standard of saving faith, as well as to 
the comfort of your own souls, that your minds should be 
grounded and settled on this point. To this end I shall give 
the rule, and then explain and enforce it by some plain and 
obvious examples. 

The rule then is, "That interpretation of Scripture is to be 
followed and relied upon as the true sense and meaning which 
has invariably been held and acted upon by the one Catholic 
and Apostolic Church of Christ." 

In explanation of this rule, it is to be borne in mind, my 
brethren, that while God hath fully and clearly revealed his 
will to us, yet he hath so done it as to form a part of our 
trial. While all things necessary to salvation are set forth 
in his word for our learning, Scripture is nevertheless so con- 
structed, that "the unlearned and the unstable can wrest it 
to their own destruction;" and the word of the gospel is either 
"a savour of life or a savour of death," as we receive and ap- 
ply it. Now if this was the case in the apostolic age, as St. 



172 ON THE STUDY AND 

Peter and St. Paul both declare that it was, much more is it 
possible, and to be expected, in these days of multiplied di- 
visions and latitudinarian departure from the faith: and, 
therefore, the more earnestly to be contended against by 
those who are "set for the defence of the gospel." 

If the inquiry then be, which of two or more conflicting 
doctrines or systems of religion be the right one, and to be 
received and relied upon as the truth of God? I answer, 
first, "How readest thou? What saith the Scripture?" Is 
one of the doctrines or systems clearly revealed therein; or 
reasonably, without force and refinement, to be deduced from 
what is thus revealed? Is it free from opposition to the other 
doctrines and general design of revelation? If so, there need 
be no difficulty. The doctrine or system thus supported is 
to be received as true. 

But suppose the ingenuity of man's wisdom, in support of 
some favorite system, shall have thrown over the subject 
such a gloss of perverted Scripture and specious reasoning, 
as to render it difficult for a plain mind to disentangle the 
sophistry of the argument, and for a humble mind to resist 
the authority of great and learned names and numerous bo- 
dies of professing christians built upon this system: what then 
is the only standard to which we can have recourse? To this, 
I answer: the word of God, as received, believed, and acted 
upon universally, by the primitive church — that body of holy 
confessors and martyrs, who received the true interpretation 
of every doctrine from the lips of inspired and infallible men 
— who themselves kept the faith and order of the gospel, and 
committed it, pure and unadulterated, to faithful men, their 
successors in this mighty trust — who watched against every 
innovation, fearlessly denounced every heresy, and kept the 
Church, what it was constituted by its Almighty Head, and 
what it is called in the inspired volume, "the pillar and ground 
of the truth." 

And I hazard nothing, my friends, by asserting in the most 
unqualified terms, that this method of determining disputed 
doctrine must be admitted and acted upon as the only safe 
rule, or the Scriptures be abandoned as containing any prac- 
tical standard of faith. There is no medium, my brethren, 
between this standard and none. For, however desirable, 



INTERPRETATION OF THE SCRIPTURES. 173 

however necessary it may be to the comfort of those numer- 
ous bodies of professing christians, whose systems of doctrine 
are opposed to each other though drawn from the same Bi- 
ble, that the standard of faith should not be determined by 
this rule; yet certain it is — nor can the principle be contro- 
verted — that of opposite views of divine truth, one only can 
be the true one. From the nature of things, both cannot be 
right; and which of them is so, can no otherwise be deter- 
mined, than by comparing them with the standard, as above 
explained. 

As this is a point of great importance to you, my brethren, 
and indeed to all who hear me, I shall endeavor to illustrate 
it, by some examples of opposing doctrine. 

"Whether the doctrine of a trinity of persons in the unity 
of the Godhead, or the opponent doctrine of a unity not thus 
constituted, be the true interpretation of what is revealed to 
us concerning this point of the faith; evident must it be, from 
the very opposition of the terms, that both doctrines cannot 
be true, and equally safe to those who entertain them. 

Whether the essential divinity of the man Christ Jesus, or 
his mere humanity, be the true doctrine of the Scriptures; 
certain it is, that one must be false, and false in such wise 
as to be fatal to those who hold it. 

Whether the redemption wrought out for sinners by the 
sufferings and death of the Son of God, be general, that is, 
for all mankind; or particular, that is, embracing only certain 
persons styled the elect; is a question of the true or false 
interpretation of Scripture, involving the very possibility of 
religion, as the highest duty of rational redeemed creatures. 
Yet one of those doctrines, with all that is built upon it, must 
be false and unfounded. 

Whether the punishment of the impenitent and ungodly, 
in a future state, shall be eternal, or only for a limited dura- 
tion, issuing in universal salvation, is a question of Scripture 
well or ill interpreted, which involves the very essence of 
moral obligation from man to his Maker, and from man to man. 

Yet, my brethren and hearers, it is within your own obser- 
vation, that these opposing doctrines, with many others which 
I have not time to notice, are all held by different bodies of 
professing Christians, as the infallible truth of revelation — 



174 ON THE STUDY AND 

who declare the most unqualified belief of their truth and 
certainty, and claim, without a blush, the witness of the Holy 
Ghost in their favor, from their success in making proselytes. 

In like manner of those doctrines of revelation which re- 
late to the Church of God, as a means of grace and assurance 
to man, in working out his eternal salvation. 

Whether the Church of Christ, which he "purchased with 
his own blood," is a divinely instituted, visible society, built 
on the same foundation, professing the same faith, and united 
in the same doctrine, discipline and worship; or a loose, un- 
connected medley of separate assemblies, the creatures of 
human presumption or convenience, holding opposite doc- 
trines, and inculcating opposite practices; is a vital question 
to the hope of man for hereafter, which depends on the inter- 
pretation of Scripture, and can be true only of one. 

Whether the ministrv of the Church of Christ is bv divine 
appointment, and of three orders; or of human convenience, 
and of one grade; is a question which meets the Christian at 
the very entrance of his course, and can only be settled by the 
word of God rightly understood, and cannot be true of both. 

Whether a divine and verifiable commission and authority 
is requisite, to give effect to the sacraments of the gospel, as 
instituted means of grace; or whether they are equally valid 
and efficacious, by whomsoever administered; is an inquiry 
which enters into the continually recurring duties of the 
Christian, and involves his title to the covenanted mercies of 
God: one of which must be false. 

Tet these doctrines, you also know, my brethren, are vari- 
ously held, and even considered as secondary and unim- 
portant points, by numerous bodies in the Christian world. 
Yet surely they are a part of that revelation which God hath 
given us, and dependent for their truth or falsehood on the 
interpretation of his word! 

Now, let us suppose, for a moment, a plain, sincere person, 
truly desirous of the truth of God, but perplexed with these 
conflicting doctrines, of all of which he finds something said 
in the Bible, yet sees them differently held by the various 
religious denominations around him: how is he to find, among 
them, the rule of faith — that standard of belief and practice, 
which all, nevertheless, admit is to be found in the word of 



INTERPRETATION OF THE SCRIPTURES. 175 

God? Is he to expect a miraculous direction of the Holy 
Ghost, as some most ignorantly and dangerously teach? 
Even under this direction, he is no nearer his object, for all 
claim the witness of the Spirit of God for their respective 
systems: but it is utterly 'impossible that all should have ify 
without admitting the horrid blasphemy, that the Holy 
Ghost gives equal testimony to the truch of doctrines so op- 
posite, that both cannot be true. Is he, in this case, to have 
recourse to the judgment of men? The difficulty still con- 
tinues. The men themselves are at variance, and one will 
deny what another affirms. Is he then to consider it a mat- 
ter of such entire indifference what system of belief he em- 
braces, that personal preference and convenience may de- 
termine his choice? This would be to reverse all certainty, 
in a matter of such moment: inasmuch, as it exalts human 
opinion in religion into a standard of the Scriptures, instead 
of bringing down human opinion to the word of God, as the 
only standard in matters of saving faith. 

What then, my hearers, is the only resort? To what quarter 
can he turn his perplexed mind, but to that cloud of Chris- 
tian witnesses who "continued steadfastly in the apostles' 
doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in 
prayers" — that is, to the primitive Church — as the best ex- 
positor of the obscure parts of Scripture — the sure and safest 
guide to the truth of conflicting doctrines and practices. But 
it may be said, this, after all, is an appeal to the judgment 
of men. In one sense, it is so. But to what sort of men? To 
men, who saw with their eyes the miracles which established 
the gospel; who heard with their ears the instructions of in- 
fallible guides; who spent their lives in the faith and order 
established in the Church by the apostles, and sealed the 
truth of that faith and order with their blood. Whether they 
are competent to decide, judge ye. 

Thus have I shown you, my hearers, the importance and 
the application of the rule given for determining the true 
sense of Scripture, as the one only standard of faith and 
obedience; and though the view taken has necessarily been 
brief, I think I can appeal to the understandings of all present, 
whether it is not both reasonable and effectual; and compe- 
tent, moreover, if duly observed, not only to preserve every 



176 ON THE STUDY AND 

sincere person from departing from "the faith once commit- 
ted to the saints," but to arrest the spreading mischief, and 
to awaken and bring back the multitudes who blindly and 
inconsiderately, but not excusably, have committed their 
souls to a security on which they would not risk their worldly 
interest. 

II. I come now, as was proposed in the second place, to 
obviate some prevailing and popular errors, on this funda- 
mental subject. 

1. And first (because most extensive and injurious in its 
operation,) the principle acknowledged and acted upon by all 
anti-episcopal denominations, that "the scriptures are exclu- 
sively sufficient for their own interpretation." Now, my 
brethren and hearers, if these words have any practical mean- 
ing, it must be this: not that men may draw from the Bible 
those directions which shall be sufficient to secure their sal- 
vation, if faithfully followed, but they will do so. As this, 
however, must depend on the true or erroneous interpretation 
given to the Scriptures by each individual person, the prin- 
ciple itself is hereby shown to be, both theoretically and 
practically, unfounded. Of this, I conceive, there needs no 
other proof than the actual condition of the Christian world, 
with its hundreds of discordant and conflicting professions of 
faith and practice — all drawn from the same word of God — 
when contrasted with the spirit of Christianity, and with the 
affecting prayer of the great head of the Church, at the close 
of his ministry upon earth — "that they all may be one, as 
thou Father art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be 
one, in us." But were other proof required, it is easily 
found in those summaries of doctrine which many of those 
bodies who assert the principle have nevertheless provided, 
to instruct their respective members in what they conceive 
to be the true meaning of scripture; thus manifesting, either 
the insufficiency of the principle, or its dangerous tendency: 
and, beyond dispute, nothing but disunion and division, 
without limit, can grow from such a root. 

2. In support of this principle, and as a kind of corollary 
from it, it has come to be considered as the dictate and the 
duty of an enlightened charity to look upon all varieties of 
religious profession as right — that is, right in such a sense as 



INTERPRETATION OF THE SCRIPTURES. 177 

to be safe for salvation. And it is beyond denial, that who- 
ever attempts to expose the fallacy of this notion, lays him- 
self liable to the charge of bigotry and intolerance — not only 
from Christian denominations, but from infidel contenders 
for some share of the Christian name. Now, my brethren 
and hearers, as this is one of the most specious deceptions 
with which revealed religion has to contend — as it is fortified 
in its operation by an erroneous and modern view of the doc- 
trine of Christian charity — as it is rendered captivating, to 
the young and thoughtless, by being tricked off with the 
epithet of liberality, and meets in the secret chambers of the 
heart something like the wish, that it could be so — I feel it 
my bounden duty, to arm you against its seducing influence, 
and to furnish you, and all who choose to profit by it, with 
such a short and convincing refutation, as can be met by no 
fair argument of reason, or authority of revealed religion. 

If all varieties of Christian profession are right, in the 
sense of being safe for salvation, then none are right — there 
is no such thing as revealed religion in the world — there is 
no assurance of faith — there is no comfort of hope, to man, 
for hereafter: and this I say upon the sure ground, that no 
power, not even omnipotence (with reverence be it spoken) 
can make contradictions to be the same thing. If all are 
right in the above sense, the Scriptures cannot be an infallible 
standard of faith and duty. They only serve to give us in- 
formation, which every man is at liberty to use as he pleases; 
and from this the transition is easy, to the entire neglect of 
them. 

3. But it is said — and it is relied upon by those who have 
a miserable interest in the prevalence, and establishment, of 
a misdirected judgment — that all the conflicting denomi- 
nations of Christian profession, nevertheless, hold the great 
fundamental doctrines of the Christian revelation, and differ 
only in non-essentials — as they venture to call them. 

But, my hearers, this is not the fact, as respects the funda- 
mental doctrines of the gospel; unless, indeed, actual, known, 
and published, opposition of professed belief, on some, if not 
all, of those doctrines, be to hold them as a common stock. 
Is the extent of the redemption that is in Christ Jesus — that 
is, whether it extends to all, or only a part of mankind — a 
[Vol. 1,— *12.] 



178 ON THE STUDY AND 

fundamental doctrine of the Christian revelation? And cart 
those who are opposed to each other on this point, be said^, 
with any show of common sense, to hold the doctrine in 
common? Is the essential divinity, or the mere humanity,, 
of our Redeemer, (considered as conclusive of the doctrine of 
me Trinity,), a fundamental doctrine of Christianity, or a non- 
essential? And can the opposite opinions upon this article 
of the faith,, be said to hold it in common? Why, where is 
the resentment of the public understanding, at such a bare- 
faced insult to its power of discrimination? 

But it may be said, that the Unitarians stand alone, and 
incur the censure of all other denominations of professing 
Christians. But why so? Upon the principle, that Scrip- 
ture is exclusively sufficient for its own interpretation, and 
that all varieties of belief are equally right, that is, safe for 
salvation; I ask, and I wait the answer — "What privilege has 
the Calvinist or Armmian, in the interpretation of Scripture, 
which is not equally due to the Unitarian or the Universalist? 
And thus, perhaps, may be seen and felt, how unfounded, 
and fallacious — how dangerous, and destructive of all revealed 
religion, such an erroneous principle must be. 

"With respect to those points called non-essential, to which 
their differences are affirmed to be confined, there is a com- 
plete deception, either of themselves or of others; for it be- 
trays an unpardonable ignorance of the nature and design of 
religion, to assert that the only wise God, who doeth nothing 
in vain, hath revealed any thing to the faith and obedience 
of his creatures, which they are at liberty to treat as non- 
essential — that is, of no practical importance. But it is de- 
nounced as uncharitable and illiberal, to deny the soundness 
of such opinions; and many who doubt them, are deterred 
from following out their doubts, by reason of this popular 
notion. Yet sure I am, my brethren and hearers, that it is 
not Christian charity that is hereby wounded; for the charity 
of the gospel, properly understood, has no application to 
opinions. It can have no fellowship with error in faith, or 
corruption of doctrine. In fact, it is bound to oppose them. 
It is to persons only, especially to those laboring under the 
fatal consequences of religious error,, that the beauty and 
efficacy of this divine grace can be manifested; whereas, the 



INTERPRETATION OF THE SCRIPTURES. 179 

modern notion of this doctrine is the reverse of this, instill- 
ing the persuasion that its right exercise regards opinions 
chiefly. But were this so, who does not see, that religious 
truth and error would be of no importance? It is, therefore, 
a perversion of the doctrine of Christian charity, and fatal to 
its very existence, as a Christian duty: its certain and only 
fruit being indifference, and not love. 

With respect to the illiberality of denouncing error, either 
in doctrine or practice — as the Scriptures know nothing of 
this word in such a connexion, nor yet of what is meant \>y 
it, so neither do I: I will, therefore, only say, that those are 
commonly most earnest in reqi#ring liberality, who, whether 
they know it not, stand most in need of its exercise towards 
their own opinions on religious subjects. 

III. I might pursue this investigation, my brethren, to 
many other delusions of the same kind; but as time fails me, 
and they are all to be detected by the application of the prin- 
ciples laid down for your guidance in searching the Scrip- 
tures, I shall conclude with a few plain and practical in- 
ferences from what has been said. 

1. If such be the effectual nature of the provision made for 
our religious comfort and edification in the word of Gtod, it 
must be our bounden duty to cleave to it with earnestness, 
affection, and diligence. To remain wilfully ignorant of, or 
unaffected by, the mighty discoveries of revelation, betrays 
such a disregard of God, and our own souls — such a contempt 
of his promises and threatenings, and so great a preference 
of the world — as deserves to be given over to a reprobate mind; 
and, as this is threatened — has been inflicted — and is yet in 
operation, it should awaken and alarm all, who are conscious 
of this neglect, to escape from the snare, "before the things 
which make for their peace, are for ever hid from their eyes." 

2. As the Scriptures are so constructed as to form a part 
of our trial; and offer and supply the treasures of divine wis- 
dom, in preference, to the humble, teachable, and desirous 
soul; it should be our constant care to acquire and retain this 
temper and habit of mind — carefully guarding against all 
prejudices, whether of natural disposition, or acquired incli- 
nation — ever ready to receive instruction from those who are 
qualified, or authorized, to impart it; yet not blindly and im- 



180 ON THE STUDY, &C. 

plicitly, but with concurrence of the understanding, certified 
by obvious agreement with "the law and the testimony" of 
Scripture; that so, "the word being received into an honest 
and good heart," and nourished with prayer for divine grace 
and direction, may "bring forth fruit with patience." For 
mysteries are yet revealed unto the meek, while, in the order 
of the divine wisdom, they are hid from those whom our 
Saviour styles "the wise and prudent." 

Lastly. As the holy Scriptures contain the standard, or 
only infallible rule, of faith and practice; our chief care should 
be, to be in all things conformed to this pattern: not, as the 
manner of some is, considering some parts more important 
than others; but wisely judging all to be of such vital con- 
sequence, that only as we are found in agreement therewith, 
can we take to ourselves the comfort and assurance of those 
promises, which are then, and not otherwise, "yea and amen 
to us, in Christ Jesus." 

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, as ye are "built upon 
the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ 
himself being the chief corner stone," and are "made wise 
unto salvation," through the word of life furnished in the 
Scriptures; "therefore, be ye steadfast, unmoveable — not 
carried about by every wind of doctrine — always abounding 
in the work of the Lord; for as much as ye know, that your 
labor is not in vain in the Lord." 

To whose holy name be glory and praise, now and ever, 
world without end. Amen. 



A SERMON, 

PREACHED AT 

THE CONSECRATION OF CHRIST CHURCH, RALEIGH, N. C. 
Sunday, December 20, 1829. 



1 Kings vi. 11, 12, 13. 



"And the word of the Lord came to Solomon, saying, 'Concerning this 
house which thou art in huilding, if thou -wilt walk in my statutes, and exe- 
cute my judgments, and keep all my commandments, to walk in them; then 
will I perform my word with thee, which I spake unto David thy father: And 
I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will not forsake my people 
Israel.' " 

The connexion of the text with the purpose which we have 
met to accomplish, and the services in which we have been 
engaged, must be sufficiently obvious, I presume, to all 
present; and the train of thought necessarily thereby sug- 
gested to every serious and well ordered mind, must lead to 
the solemn considerations which are connected with our re- 
ligious condition, as the provision and appointment of the 
most wise and merciful God, for the present and eternal good 
of his rational creation. The range is indeed a wide one, my 
brethren and hearers; too wide and extended to be fully fol- 
lowed out in the reasonable compass of a single discourse: yet, 
in the leading particulars which it suggests to our medita- 
tions, there will be found abundant matter for edification to 
all present; while there will not be wanting sufficient grounds 
of encouragement and satisfaction to those who have devoted 
their time and their substance to provide this appropriate ac- 
commodation for the public worship of Almighty God. "And 
the word of the Lord came to Solomon, saying, 'Concerning 
this house which thou art in building, if thou wilt walk in 
my statutes, and execute my judgments, and keep all my 
commandments to walk in them; then will I perform my 
word with thee, which I spake unto David thy father: And 



182 A SEEMON, PEEACHED AT THE CONSECEATION 

I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will not forsake 
my people Israel.' " 

The reflections suggested by this passage of Scripture, and 
by the context in connexion with the present occasion, point 
to three subjects of general edification, which I shall present 
in their order; and then conclude with an application of the 
whole. 

I. First, the subject of religion in general is necessarily 
presented to our consideration, by the particular circumstance 
to which the text refers. 

On this subject, it is all important, my brethren and hearers, 
that we entertain just views; a mistake, either as to its nature, 
its derivation, or its application to moral condition, must be 
attended with danger, and can only lead to some false and 
spurious exhibition of an unfounded hope. Yet on no other 
subject, perhaps, with, which men engage, is there less pre- 
vious thought bestowed, even by serious persons; and, as a 
natural consequence, upon no other is there so great a variety, 
both of opinion and practice. 

If, then, it be inquired, "What is religion?'' the answer is 
ready, That it is the cultivation of the divine nature and 
image, impressed upon moral beings at their creation. It is 
the rendering to the glorious and underived Author of all 
being the homage of the affections, the conformity of the will, 
and the obedience of the conduct, singly and unceasingly. 
This is religion as exhibited before the throne of God, by 
those pure and holy beings who have never swerved from the 
love of their Creator. This is religion, as enjoyed and prac- 
tised by our first parents, before their apostacy from God, 
and will be that of their posterity, when, purified from the 
corruption of their nature, and recovered to holiness by the 
grace of the gospel, they shall be restored to the bright in- 
heritance forfeited by sin. But such is not, cannot be, the 
religion of sinners. A religion calculated for fallen, de- 
praved, and corrupt creatures, alienated from God, must be 
suitable to their condition, commensurate with their powers 
of moral improvement, and calculated to try and to prove 
the sincerity and strength of their faith. Faith, as a moral 
virtue, as a religious duty, is unknown to the religion of 
heaven. But on earth, it is the foundation on which the en- 



'OF CHRIST CHURCH, RALEIGH. ToS 

tire superstructure is built up, and without which the whole 
aim, purpose, and design of religion is defeated, and its at- 
tainments rendered impossible. The religion of heaven is 
neither derived from revelation, nor enforced by command, 
nor produced with effort, nor assisted b} r sacraments as means 
of grace, nor encumbered with ministers and places, and 
•times and seasons for the performance of its holy duties. No, 
mv brethren; the love of God is the unmixed element of their 
feeing, and its exhibition in adoration and praise, the spontane- 
ous offering, the overflowing of the ravished spirit, the unceas- 
ing and happy employment of those pure and uncontaminated 
spirits who dwell for ever in the presence of God, and derive 
from the unveiled brightness of the heavenly glory, continual 
increase of love, and joy, and peace, and blessedness unspeak- 
able; whereas the religion of redeemed sinners is a prescribed 
■and limited institution, with ritual observances, and outward 
and visible ordinances in the hands of an appointed ministry; 
all derived from express revelation — authorized by divine 
appointment — enforced by positive command — attainable 
only through the painful efforts of watchfulness, self-denial, 
and mortification of the natural inclinations — and after all, 
prompted and wrought out in the desire, and enlightened 
and assisted in the endeavor, of the fallen creature, by the 
divine grace of a divine Saviour, as the source and spring, of 
"all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works." 

In our estimate of religion, therefore, to confound what is 
peculiar to our condition as a state of trial and moral im- 
provement, with what belongs to the same thing, under op- 
posite circumstances; and thence to decry, undervalue, and 
cast away ritual observances and positive institutions as weak 
and beggarly elements, unworthy of our care and observance; 
is to make shipwreck of the faith, and, in the unbridled license 
of a heated imagination, to surrender the soul to the deceits 
• of an inexplicable mysticism, or to the equally dangerous de- 
lusions of an enthusiastic and unbalanced mind. While, on- 
the other hand, to be wise above what is written, in depart- 
ing from the revealed appointments and commanded duties 
of the wisdom of God for the attainment of eternal salvation, 
is to vacate revelation as the foundation of faith, and to incur 
the awful risk of- being surrendered to that strong delusion. 



18i A SEEM0N, PEEACHED AT THE CONSECRATION 

which God threatens to send upon those "who receive not the 
love of the trnth that they might be saved." 

Yet all wish to be saved — yea, we may say with truth, 
that all Ti<ype to be saved — that there is not one in this con- 
gregation — no, not one, even in the wide range where the 
Christian revelation is known, or in the still wider range, 
where "darkness covers the earth and gross darkness the 
people" — who does not hope, on some principle, true or false, 
that another state of being will place him in unchangeable 
enjoyment. For, my hearers, in the very elements of his 
nature, man is a religious being; and though fallen, degraded, 
and blinded, and, over the greater part of this poor world, 
alike ignorant of God and of himself, yet claims relation- 
ship with eternity, and intuitively seeks to propitiate and 
appease the unknown God, whom he fears, but cannot love. 
And it is well worthv of your serious notice, my friends, that 
man never has been found in the circumference of this world, 
so devoid of intellect, and degraded in condition, as to be 
divested of all religious impression. Yea, more than this — 
he hath no where been found collected into a community, 
without exhibiting the shadow of that substance contained in 
the revelation we are favored with. The temple, the priest, 
the altar, and the victim, of the grossest and most disgusting 
superstition, set the seal of universal humanity to the funda- 
mental truth that sinners can approach God acceptably only 
thruugh a representative, and be cleansed from guilt no 
otherwise than by an atonement of blood, washing away the 
defilement of sin. 

To a testimony thus universal, in favor of religion, we re- 
fer, on the present occasion, as calculated, in the judgment 
of your preacher, to arrest the prevailing disposition of the 
present day to strip the religion of the gospel of its peculiar 
distinctions and external rites, to divest them of the sacred 
character of divine appointments, equally bound upon our- 
observance with the body of revealed doctrine, and to reduce 
the Christian system to the nakedness of an abstraction which 
may safely be modified according to the convenience or the 
caprice of individual inclination. That the influence of some 
such mistaken principle is at work in the world is rendered 
certain, not only by the existence of those divisions which 



OF CHKIST CHUECH, EALEIGH. 185 

deform the beauty, and destroy the unity of the gospel, but 
still more by the indifference and disregard manifested by 
the great majority of our population to any mode or form, 
under which it has been attempted to render Christianity 
more palatable to the pride and prejudice of a depraved na- 
ture. That this exists to an alarming degree, in all Christian 
lands, cannot justly be questioned; and to account for it, we 
must resort either to absolute infidelity, or to indifference, on 
the grounds just mentioned. And the consciences of all 
present, who are, unhappily for themselves and for their 
country, unconnected with the gospel, can best witness to 
which of these two causes their disregard of God's gracious 
and only provision for the salvation of sinners is to be refer- 
red. For it is not my province to judge, my hearers; but it 
is strictly so to give you grounds on which to examine ?\d 
judge yourselves. 

Of absolute infidelity — that is, of actual rejection of reve- 
lation — none present, I trust, stand convicted to themselves. 
On the contrary, I am almost sure, that belief of the Scriptures, 
as a revelation from God for the good of mankind, would be 
the serious confession of all who hear me. To the delusion, 
then, that the great purpose of the gospel, in their eternal 
salvation, can be answered without the external profession, 
the practice, the fellowship, and the sacraments of religion, 
must this neglect be referred. Otherwise, rational beings 
must be convicted of the desperate folly of deliberately choos- 
ing and following out their own perdition. 

Yet, my dear friends and fellow sinners, what but per- 
dition of soul and body in hell, must be the consequence to 
those who, under the "grace and truth which came by Jesus 
Chkist," pass their short and uncertain period of probation 
and improvement for eternity unconnected with the require- 
ments of the gospel, and regardless of the conditions on which 
alone the mercy of God is tendered to a world of sinners? 
Remember, I beseech you, in the first place, "that God hath 
no need of the sinful man;" therefore, salvation is wholly of 
grace. "Of his mercy he saved us by the washing of regen- 
eration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost." In the second 
place, remember that "God now commandeth all men, every 
where, to repent and believe the gospel;" because "he hath 



IS 6 A SERMON, PREACHED AT THE CONSECRATION 

appointed a day in the which he will judge tlie world in 
righteousness." And in the third place, bear in mind, that 
"except a man be born again," except he be "born of water 
and of the Spirit," and do "eat the flesh and drink the blood" 
of the divine Saviour, in the sacraments of his death and 
resurrection, this salvation is unattainable. And most ear- 
nestly and affectionately are we cautioned by the Holy Spirit, 
in the word of God, not to be wise in our own conceits — not 
to listen to the self-righteous pride of our corrupt hearts, 
tempting us to hew out cisterns of salvation for ourselves, and 
by departing from prescribed conditions, to cast away from 
our hope the precious promises of God, ratified in the blood 
of Christ. 

II. Secondly, from this passage of Scripture, in connexion 
with the building of the temple at Jerusalem, we are led to 
inquire into the design and obligation of ritual and cere- 
monial appointments in religion. 

I think it must be admitted, my brethren and friends, that 
in the degree in Which the circumstantials of any positive in- 
stitution are respected, will the institution itself be esteemed, 
or lightly regarded. The inquiry, therefore, I trust, will not 
be without its use, as a subject of general edification on the 
great concern which I wish to impress upon your consciences 
this day. 

It is very true, that though religion is in itself prior to, and 
independent of, all l'itual appointments, and external accom- 
modations — yet, never in this world has it been presented to 
mankind abstracted from outward and visible observances, 
as a part, and an essential part too, of every dispensation re- 
vealed to the faith and obedience of redeemed man. The 
patriarchal, the Jewish, and the Christian dispensations, of 
"grace given us, in Christ Jesus, before the world began," 
had, and have, each of them, peculiar rites and positive in- 
stitutions, which, under some variety of modification, have 
continued integral parts of each succeeding dispensation of 
revealed religiou; and as their origin was the same, so was 
the purpose they were intended to answer, in the economy 
of divine grace. 

In their origin they come from God; they are of his ap- 
pointment; and only as such can they be the objects of faith 



OF CHRIST CHURCH, RALEIGH. 187 

to rational beings, or be required of them as religious duties. 
Their obligation, therefore, is supreme, and binds every soul 
under the particular dispensation to a faithful observance of 
what is thus appointed. Of this, we have a very instructive 
example given us in the earliest record of the worship of his 
Creator enjoined upon fallen man. The rite of sacrifice, be- 
ing the chief external observance of the patriarchal religion, 
and the animal and the manner of the offering being expressly 
designated, a departure on the part of Cain, the first-born 
from Adam, from what the Almighty had prescribed for his 
observance, was visited by rejection of his unbidden offering 
— presenting an awful warning to will worshippers of every 
age, and a most pointed condemnation of those many inven- 
tions of men, wherewith the gospel is both disfigured and 
impeded. 

The positive institutions, common to every dispensation of 
revealed religion, are five in number — viz: The day of rest, 
or Sabbath, or Lord's day; as it has successively been called, 
in commemoration of the finishing of the works of creation; 
marriage, or the union of one man and one woman in holy 
matrimony; the rite of sacrifice; the priestly office, to minister 
in holy things; and the temple, or place set apart for the 
public offices of religion. And by considering the design or 
purpose of Almighty God in the appointment of the three 
last mentioned, as more directly connected with the subject, 
we shall more clearly understand their obligation for our 
observance. 

1. And first, of the rite of sacrifice as a divine institution. 

Now this was evidently, in the first place, to show to the 
sinner the utter hopelessness of his condition, from any thing 
in himself, — that he had become unworthy to approach God, 
even as a worshipper. And that, as his own life was for- 
feited to the divine justice, by his disobedience, he could 
never henceforward be heard or accepted, but through a di- 
vine Mediator. 

In the second place, the appointment of an animal slain 
by the shedding of its blood, was intended to keep alive 
among mankind the -knowledge and effect of the first and 
most gracious promise made to fallen man: that in the fullness 
of time the seed of the woman should overcome the enemy 



188 A SERMON, PEEAOHED AT THE CONSECRATION 



of the human race, deliver mankind from the power and do- 
minion of sin, and by offering an adequate atonement to the 
offended justice of God, restore them to his favor, and recover 
for them the bright inheritance which was forfeited by sin. 

And, in the third place, to furnish a visible channel or 
means of divine grace, through which only can fallen, spirit- 
ually dead creatures, be regenerated; that is, restored to moral 
competency, and rendered capable of religious attainments. 

This is a design, my brethren and hearers, which, while 
the world shall continue to be peopled with successive gene- 
rations of sinners, must needs be continued in operation; and 
only as it is truly realized, and heartily embraced and fol- 
lowed out, can those successive generations escape from the 
curse and condemnation which rest upon unbelief, with the 
superadded guilt of rejected salvation. 

2. Secondly — Of the priestly office. 

To minister in holy things, and especially to serve at the 
altar, offering gifts and sacrifices to God for man, is the na- 
tural right of no sinful mortal. It must be conferred by the 
Almighty, and be certified to be so conferred, not only to 
avoid presumptuous sin on the part of the offender, but to 
give certainiy and effect to those outward and visible reli- 
gious ordinances, which by the appointment of God, have an 
inward and spiritual grace annexed to their due administra- 
tion and reception. From the beginning, therefore, it has 
been so ordered, that "no man taketh this honor unto him- 
self." Under the patriarchal period, the priestly office was 
the privilege of the first-born son. Under the Jewish econ- 
omy, a particular tribe, that of Levi, was set apart by divine 
direction for the service of religion generally; and in that 
tribe a particular family, that of Aaron, was specially select- 
ed for the succession to the highest grade of the priesthood, 
as then modified. And under the Christian dispensation, 
the Author and finisher of our faith selected the twelve apos- 
tles, who were eye witnesses of his resurrection and ascension 
into heaven, as the visible and verifiable root from which the 
succession of the Christian priesthood should be derived, to 
the end of the world. When, therefore, we consider the in- 
separable connexion betwixt a sacrifice or a sacrament, as 
divine institutions, and a priest or divinely authorized per- 



OF CHRIST CHUECH, RALEIGH. 189 

son, to offer them to God on the part of others; when we re- 
flect on the signal manner in which the contempt of this high 
distinction — as in the case of Esau — or the invasion of its sa- 
cred rights — as in the case of Corah and his company in the 
wilderness, and of king Uzziah, who was smitten with lepro- 
sy because he attempted to burn incense upon the altar — 
was vindicated; the obligation to reverence the office, and to 
profit by this provision of the wisdom of God for the regular 
and effectual administration and participation of the sacra- 
ments of the gospel, must be understood and felt by every 
serious person. 

It has indeed been contended, that the priestly office 
ceased with the Jewish dispensation; and that, as there are 
no longer proper sacrifices to be offered up to God, the min- 
isterial office under the gospel is not a proper priesthood — • 
not to be estimated according to what was particular to it 
under the law. 

Into this question I enter not on the present occasion, fur* 
ther than to observe, that the assertion itself, and the argu- 
ment constructed for its support, are derived from the neces- 
sity of those who, in comparatively modern times, have as- 
sumed the ministerial office without due warrant and author- 
ity: and that the whole is founded on the erroneous notion 
that the priestly character is confined to the acts of sacrificing 
and offering the victim; whereas, in truth, the priestly cha- 
racter is derived altogether from its being a representative 
office, instituted to administer the things of God to and with 
men; dependent wholly on the mediatorial scheme of reli- 
gion, to continue until that scheme shall be completed, and 
of the same sacredness and obligation, whether the sacrifice 
offered be proper, as of a slain animal, or symbolical, as in 
the eucharist. Every priest, lawfully called and set apart 
to his holy office, from the first-born under the patriarchal 
dispensation, to the apostolic succession of the present day, 
has been, and was intended to be, a representative of our 
great High Priest, the man Christ Jesus. The material sa- 
crifices of slain beasts, and purification by the sprinkling of 
actual blood, have indeed been abrogated by the offering up 
of the body of Christ, once for all. But the representative 
sacrifice of his death, and of the purification of his atoning 



190 A SERMON, PREACHED AT THE CONSECRATION 

blood, still continue to be administered in the sacraments of 
the Church; and derive their whole benefit to ns as instituted 
means of grace — receive their true character as sacraments 
— from the authority to consecrate and administer them as- 
divine appointments. 

God hath indeed most wonderfully provided Himself and 
us with a Lamb for a burnt offeriug. This "Lamb of God, 
which taketh away the sins of the world," the worthy Chris- 
tian communicant discerns by faith, as slain for him, in the 
sacrifice of the cross. Bv faith he offers this to God, through 
the appointed channel of the Christian priesthood, as the 
substitute for his own forfeited life, a spiritual sacrifice, ac- 
ceptable to God; and partaking of the bread of life, by eating 
tfce flesh and drinking the blood of the ffreat sin ofTerinar, un- 
der the appointed symbols of consecrated bread and wine, 
he derives therefrom the streno-th and consolation which 

O 

faith imparts to the soul, and that measure of divine grace 
which enables him to hold fast his profession without waver- 
ing, and to "press towards* the mark for the prize of the high 
calling of God in Christ Jesus." 

3. Thirdly — Of the temple, or place solemnly set apart for 
the public offices of religion. 

That proper accommodations for the performance of the 
public duties of religion are indispensable to a visible society 
of professing believers, we are taught, my brethren, not only 
by the precepts and example of former dispensations, but by 
the reason of the thing. As we are commanded "not to for- 
sake the assembling of ourselves together," there must be a 
suitable place to assemble at. And as the Christian sacrifice 
of the Eucharist is continually to be offered, "until our Lord 
shall come again," there must be an altar and a priesthood 
for the sacred purpose. In the infancy of the world, indeed, 
and before it became expedient to institute the Church as a 
visible society, every family, every particular household, pos- 
sessed an altar, and a priesthood thereat to serve, in the per- 
son of the head of the family or of the first-born son. But when 
the corruption of religion, the increase of idolatry and wick- 
edness, and the approach of the appointed time for the fulfil- 
ment of the original promise, rendered it necessary to select a 
particular family from which the Messiah should spring; the 



OF CHRIST CHURCH, KALEIGH. 191 

Church, in its distinctive and particular character, was called' 
into being, and constituted the sole depository of the revealed 
will, prescribed worship, precious promises, and enlivening 
presence of their God and Saviour. And when, in process 
of time, the increase of their number and their deliverance 
from Egyptian bondage, rendered a place of public assembly 
for the performance of their religious services necessary, God 
was pleased to command the erection of the tabernacle in the 
wilderness, and afterwards, of the temple at Jerusalem, as 
habitations for his holy name; as places to receive the offer- 
ings of his worshipper, and to dispense his blessings to his 
people, through the divinely appointed office of the priest- 
hood: as he also was pleased to manifest his acceptance of the 
buildings, by a visible display of his glory at their respective 
dedications. 

In like manner, when our blessed Lokd had purchased to 
himself a kingdom, by finishing the work which his Father 
had given him to do, he founded his Church, his mystical 
body, and sent forth his servants, the apostles, to teach all 
nations — to proclaim the glad tidings of a reconciled God, of 
the pardon of sin, and of eternal life through faith in his 
name; and to receive into his Church by baptism all who 
should embrace their doctrine. These, his faithful servants, 
accordingly went forth and preached every where; "God, 
also, bearing them witness, both in signs and wonders, and 
with divers miracles and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according 
to his own will; — so that believers were the more added to 
the Church." And as their numbers increased, and the cir- 
cumstances of the times permitted, tliey, too, erected places 
of worship, and solemnly dedicated them to the service of 
Almighty God. It is true, we read of no miracles indicating 
the acceptance of their houses of prayer, on the part of Al- 
mighty God; neither have we any certain information of fixed 
places for the performance of Christian worship, during the 
period that miracles were wrought in confirmation of the gos- 
pel. While exposed to the persecuting Heathen power, 
Christians were obliged to meet secretly and as they could., 
for the performance of their sacred solemnities. Yet, whether 
in private houses, in the recesses of some forest, or in the 
concealment of some cavern of the earth, they were still the 



192 A SERMON, PREACHED AT THE CONSECRATION 

Church, the peculium of God; and whether in Rome or Jeru- 
salem, in Greece or in Egypt, in Asia or in Africa, they col- 
lectively formed that one visible body, of which Christ is 
the Supreme Head and Almighty Saviour; of which every 
national Church, derived from the apostles of Christ, is a 
branch, and every particular congregation a member; against 
which no weapon formed shall prosper; against which the 
gates of hell shall not prevail; and with which Christ hath pro- 
mised to be present, by his Spirit, "to the end of the world." 

Such, my brethren and hearers, is the gracious and merci- 
ful provision which the wisdom of God hath made in the ex- 
ternal and positive institutions of religion, for the furtherance 
and help of our faith. A Church, a ministry, and sacra- 
ments, are indispensable to the religious condition of fallen, 
sinful beings, reprieved from condemnation, and placed in the 
hand of a Divine Mediator for recovery and salvation. The 
whole economy of grace, therefore, is so constructed as to 
keep before their eyes, in the boldest relief, this master- 
principle of encouragement, exertion, and success; and with a 
design so gracious, a provision so excellent, and an obliga- 
tion so commanding, it is deeply to be lamented that so few, 
•comparatively, are drawn by these cords of love to the Father 
of Mercies, for that eternal life which is in his only begotten 
Son — that under the light of the gospel multitudes of ac- 
countable immortals pass through their day of trial and grace 
without opening their eyes to the light — and, that under the 
preaching of the gospel, still greater numbers resist the con- 
victions of divine truth, and say to their consciences, "Go 
thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I 
will call for thee." 

IIJ. In the third and last place — From this passage of 
{Scripture we have confirmed in a very striking manner the 
reasonable and unchangeable conditions on which alone the 
promises of God can be attained by us. The conditions are, 
a full, unreserved, and sincere obedience to the revealed will 
of God — a thankful reception of his offered mercy, through 
our Lord Jesus Christ; and a diligent cultivation of the 
means of grace, for the attainment of that "holiness, without 
which no man shall see the Lord." 

"And the word of the Lord came to Solomon, saying, Con- 



OF CHKIST CHURCH, RALEIGH. 1D3 



ceraing this house which thou art in building, if thou wilt 
walk in my statutes, and execute my judgments, and keep 
all my commandments, to walk in them; then will I perform 
my word with thee, which I spake unto David thy father: 
and I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will not 
forsake my people, Israel." 

These are the conditions on which, to you also, my friends 
and hearers, as to Israel of old, the promises of God are sus- 
pended; and you must fulfil the conditions, on your part, 
otherwise you forfeit the glorious reward held out to your 
hopes. Eevealed religion, remember, is a matter of strict 
covenant engagement, and to every baptized person is strictly 
a personal contract. In this contract you have solemnly en- 
gaged, on your part, to "renounce the devil, the world, and 
the flesh;" and "diligently to keep God's holy command- 
ments:" and on his part, jonv Heavenly Father hath engaged 
to give you the assistance of his Holy Spirit, to enable you 
to perform your engagement; and to reward your faith and 
obedience with eternal life. To expect it, therefore, on any 
other conditions, is the grievous folly of expecting to reap 
where you have not sowed, and to be transferred to a situ- 
ation for which you have made no preparation. 

That the promises of God are conditioned on our faithful- 
ness to the baptismal engagements, is an awakening thought 
at all times; and particularly so on the present occasion, my 
brethren of the Church, when the cloud which has so long 
hovered over your prospects appears to be withdrawn, and 
the promise of a brighter day to be dawning around you. 
Almost against hope, and through various disappointments, 
the zeal and liberality of a few praiseworthy individuals have 
succeeded in erecting a commodious and respectable build- 
ing, in which to worship the God of your fathers and to par- 
ticipate in those sacred ordinances wdiich are the divinely 
appointed channels of grace to your souls. This building 
you have surrendered to God, and called upon me, in virtue 
of mine office, to consecrate and set it apart, exclusively, to 
the worship and service of his holy name. This duty I have 
performed this day, before many witnesses, and before God 
the Judge of all. I have laid before you the nature of your 
religion — the design and obligation of the positive institu- 
£Vol. 1,— *13.] 



194: A SERMON, PREACHED AT THE CONSECRATION" 



tions connected with it — and the conditions on which alone- 
can this or any other religious advantage be truly profitable 
to you. Before these witnesses, then, and before that heart- 
searching Eye, which now looks down upon us, I charge you 
to bear in mind and faithfully to fulfil the conditions on 
which only will his promised blessings continue with you. 
Bear in mind, my brethren, that this house is now separated 
from all unhallowed and common uses. Be diligent there- 
fore, to discharge from your hearts the unhallowed love of 
the world, and from your lives the too, too frequent con- 
formity with its vain and vicious practices; lest by your 
irreverent coming into his presence,, you profane that which 
is now "holiness unto the Lord." "Keep thy foot when thou, 
goest to the house of God," says the wise preacher and king 
of Israel to his people. That is, prepare for the solemn ser- 
vice of God, by searching your hearts, and trying your spirits,, 
and examining your lives, in the retirement of your private 
devotions. This will preserve you from "offering the sacri- 
fice of fools" in a mere unmeaning lip service — will enable 
and prepare you to pray with the understanding for the re- 
lief of particular w r ants, and with the fervency of spirit for 
general blessings. "Come out from aniong them, and be ye 
separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing r 
and I will receive you; and I will be a father unto you, and 
ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." 
And thus preached the inspired apostle St. Paul, to the 
fashionable Christians of the dissolute city of Corinth. From, 
his Epistles to them, it would appear that they were fond of 
the shows and feasts made in the idolatrous temples; of the 
exhibitions and games presented in the amphitheatre and 
circus; and of the other vanities in which wealth, idleness, 
and irreligion, sport away the burden of their superfluity. 
But such, St. Paul well knew, "was not the spot of God's 
children;" and to reclaim them from this vicious and ruinous 
conformity to the world, he showed them, by arguments of 
reason, how every way inconsistent such conduct was with 
their holy profession. "What communion hath light with 
darkness? and what concord hath Cueist with Belial? and 
what agreement hath the temple of God with idols?" And 
to, stir them up to higher and better things, he sets before 



OF CHRIST CHURCH, RALEIGH. 195 

them the promises of God, and reminds them of the high 
privileges they were entitled to as his adopted children. And 
the same precious promises, and the same exalted privileges, 
are yours, my brethren; but on the same cpnditions of dis- 
tinct separation from the vanity and ungodliness of the times. 
Therefore, my beloved brethren, "touch not, taste not, handle 
not;" but "come out" from among the votaries of the world, 
"and be separate;" as in profession, so likewise in practice. 
Study to "adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things," 
keeping ever before you "the hope of your high calling," 
and the unchangeable conditions on which only "the promises 
of God are Yea and Amen to us, in Christ Jesus." 

I come now to apply what has been said. 

If I have not failed altogether in my object, I cannot but 
hope that the attention with which I have been favored, 
must already have suggested this reflection to many, who 
are yet strangers to the power and influence of religion: — 
"Why have I been so long negligent of that which is of such 
infinite importance and immeasurable obligation?" And have 
you been able, my brother, to answer the question otherwise 
than by confessing it to be by your own proper fault? And 
if not, what is the improvement which both reason and in-. 
terest will tell you should be made of the discovery? Surely 
it must be the part of every ingenuous mind, which has been 
betrayed into carelessness and indifference, hitherto, on the 
great interests of eternity, or into an erroneous view of re- 
vealed religion, to rouse from the delusion, and to search and 
look into those things which are presented to its considera- 
tion, with such a show of reason, and on such high authority. 
Surely it may be expected, that those for whom a gracious 
God hath done so much, will at least inquire what their part 
and duty is as redeemed to God, called to the knowledge of 
his grace, and furnished for the attainment of eternal life, 
through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Otherwise, eternal 
life and endless felicity in the presence of God can have no 
attractions, and everlasting misery and despair no terrors, to 
rational beings. 

Yet, reasonable as this expectation surely is — and God 
grant it may be realized even in one instance this day — I fear 
it will be in vain. Practical unbelief is so common — disre- 



196 A SERMON, PREACHED AT THE CONSECRATION, &C. 

gard and indifference to religion so general — and the love of 
the world, and exclusive engagement with its pursuits so 
prevalent; as to stifle and silence the occasional awakenings 
of the conscience. But let me entreat you, my dear hearers, 
to reflect where this disregard of God, and of your immortal 
souls, must end — to consider how conscience will be quieted 
when it awakes upon a death-bed, under the agonies of an 
unprovided-for eternity — under the remorse of abused mer- 
cies, disregarded warnings, and a rejected Saviour. O, that 
I could raise up a spirit of consideration and inquiry on this 
unspeakable interest. Surely there is yet left to us so much 
of Christian knowledge, of enlightened reason, and of moral 
worth, as might form a wall of defence for what remains of 
Christian principle and Christian practice, could it but be 
prevailed upon to step out and avow itself as on the Lord's 
side. But alas! my brethren, we must take up the lamenta- 
tion of the prophet, over Israel of old — "The whole head is 
sick" — the learned, the noble, and the wealthy of the land — 
the heads of society, with a few shining exceptions — for which 
God be praised — are "ashamed of the gospel of Christ." 
"The whole heart is faint" — the middle class of society, the 
heart and strength of our country, are doubting and divided, 
scattered and peeled by every wind of doctrine which can 
blow from misguided zeal, misplaced ignorance, honest er- 
ror, and dishouest deceit; while all below, the poor and the 
ignorant of our population, is "full of the wounds and bruises 
and putrifying sores" of blasphemy, drunkenness, and sensu- 
ality. Oh! what an account has this every way favored land to 
give in to God the judge of all! But it must be given, re- 
member, my dear hearers, by its individual population; for 
nations, as such, cannot answer at the judgment seat; and in 
the dread account which awaits this generation, the influence 
of example will not be overlooked. 

And may God in mercy, impress his truth upon every 
heart present. 

Now to God the Father, God the Son, &c. 



AN EPISCOPAL CHARGE 






■ 






DELIVERED TO THE 



CONVENTION OF THE PROTESTANT EPISCOPAL CHURCH, 

Assembled in Washington, N. C, in Apkil 1825. 



The period has arrived, my brethren, when personal ob- 
servation of the state of this diocese enables me to fulfil' a 
duty of my station, in an Address, by way of Charge, to the 
clergy and laity of the Protestant Episcopal Church in North 
Carolina; and I very gladly embrace the opportunity of this 
annual assemblage of the representatives of the Church in 
Convention, to present to their consideration those particu- 
lars which are of greatest importance, at present, to the pro- 
gress and success of the cause we have in hand. 

From the information given to this Convention in my Epis- 
copal Journal, and the subsequent Parochial Reports, the 
gradual improvement in the external circumstances' of the 
Church is very evident; and it is no more than a reasonable 
expectation, that a continuance of the same course of labor 
and diligence in the clergy, and attention on the part of the 
laity, will be followed by a like favorable result. 

There are some causes, however, more remote from gene- 
ral observation, which operate injuriously to the advance- 
ment of the Church, but which are in the reach of a remedy, 
and which it is our joint duty to endeavor to remove. 

The first I shall mention is want of information in the 
people at large, and in too great a degree among those of our 
own communion, on the distinctive character of the 
church of Christ, and the obligations which thence follow 
to man, thus furnished with this means of grace. 

That it exists in a very extensive and injurious degree, is 
a point which needs no proof; it being the daily experience 
of most of those who hear me. And while it can be account- 



198 AN EPISCOPAL CHARGE. 

ed for very satisfactorily, in my opinion, it is from the causes 
producing it that we shall best learn what is most proper to 
counteract it. 

We have, then, but to direct our attention to the state of 
things produced by the downfall of the Church at the period 
of our revolution, and to what has followed progressively 
since, until within a very few years, to find ample means of 
accounting for this state of the public mind. The Episcopal 
Church, never very strong in this State, was reduced by that 
great event to a condition of actual silence. Political feel- 
ings were associated with its very name, which operated as 
a complete bar to any useful or comfortable exercise of duty, 
by the very few clergymen, perhaps not more than three or 
four, who were left. 

The public instruction of the people in religion, therefore, 
fell exclusively into other hands, and into hands disposed, 
both by principle and interest, to complete the ruin of the 
Church; and, by their particular systems of doctrine, preclu- 
ded from treating, with any precision, that branch of Chris- 
tian edification which refers to the unity of the Church of 
Christ, its distinctive character and religious purpose, and 
to the authority of the Christian ministry, as an integral part 
of that system of faith and order revealed in the Gospel. On 
such points of doctrine, those who have separated from the 
Church are necessarily silent; or, if they are occasionally 
hinted at, it is in such vague and indefinite terms as tend 
rather to obscure than to elucidate the subject. It is not to 
be wondered at, then, my brethren, that these doctrines, as 
held by the Episcopal Church, should gradually lose their 
impression on those who entertained them, be lost sight of 
by the people at large, and at length be forgotten; and that 
a prescription of forty years should possess an influence dif- 
ficult to dislodge from the minds of those who have been 
taught to view every thing relating to the external order of 
the Church as unimportant and non-essential. That this is 
the more general state of the public mind, I have all the 
certainty which observation and declared opinion can give; 
and the very painful knowledge, that many who call them- 
selves Episcopalians cherish such every way inconsistent no- 
tions, and are further led into this error by the modern but 



AN EPISCOPAL CHAKGE. W§ 

erroneous views of charity and liberal opinions. "While thk 
state of things continues, we shall deceive ourselves egre- 
giously if we expect any real or extensive increase of the 
Church; our numbers may indeed be added to, but the nu- 
merical is not always the real strength either of the Church, 
or of an army. 

On you, then, my brethren of the clergy, will devolve the 
imperious duty of so framing and directing your public min- 
istrations, as well as your private instructions among your 
respective charges, as to embrace these long neglected but 
vital doctrines, and to explain and enforce them, from the 
word of God and the reason of the thing, as parts of that sys- 
tem of revealed truth, which forms but one whole, and can- 
not be broken up to suit the particular notions of any man 
or body of men. In coming to this duty, however, my reve- 
rend brethren, it is my part to warn you to set your faces, 
like a flint, against the misrepresentations and reproaches of 
pretended friends and real enemies, who will be sure to com- 
bine against you, and to throw every obstacle in the way. 
But, for your encouragement, let me remind you that it is a 
work of necessity, mercy, and charity: of necessity, as to the 
edification of your own flock; of mercy, as to those multitudes 
who are perishing for lack of knowledge; of charity, as to 
those who have embraced the error, in presenting them with 
the means of detecting and escaping from it. But, further, 
as you are to "declare the whole counsel of God," and to 
"keep back nothing that is profitable" to your hearers, so are 
you bound by your ordination vow, "to be ready, with all 
faithful diligence, to banish and drive away from the Church 
all erroneous and strange doctrines, contrary to God's word." 

Against this, my admonition to you, and against your at- 
tention to it, you must be prepared to meet and to disregard 
the odium attached to a controversial spirit; because it can 
in no sense be made to apply to the duty every pastor owes 
to his flock, in warning them against error, however that er- 
ror may be sanctioned by others; and it is high time that this 
cunning method, of giving religious error time to establish 
itself and eventually interdicting the only possible method of 
refuting and overturning it, be resisted. Those, and those 
only, who have a miserable interest in the prevalence of er* 



200 AN EPISCOPAL CHARGE. 

ror, will resort to such an untenable argument against the 
discussion of those points on which the professing world is 
so divided; and when it is evident that the operation of this 
and similar deceptive principles is gradually producing an 
indifference, coldness, and deadness, to revealed religion, 
which indicate the temper predicted of the latter day, it 
surely becomes the duty of the ministers of Christ to "con- 
tend earnestly for the faith" — to remember that they are 
watchmen in Zion, and that if they give no warning, the 
price of blood will be required at their hands. But it does 
not follow, my reverend brothers, that in exposing error an 
ano-ry and acrimonious temper or style is necessary. No: 
on the contrary, it is to be avoided, both for our own sakes 
and the sake of others; and the only just objection to religious 
controversy is the intemperance into which it is too apt to 
degenerate. This, then, is to be guarded against, while we 
equally bear in mind, that the time is come when great 
plainness of speech is required, if we hope to rouse men to 
the serious consideration of those things which make for their 
peace; if we would, indeed, draw that line between divine 
truth and human error, whereby all may profit who are dis- 
posed to come to the light. 

A second point, on which a cloud has been thrown over 
the public mind, injurious to, and, in the end, destructive of, 
revealed religion, is the lowering of the Scriptures of our 

FAITH IN GENERAL ESTIMATION, BY HOLDING THEM OUT AS EQUAL- 
LY CONCLUSIVE IN FAVOR OF OPPOSITE SYSTEMS OF DOCTRINES. 

This, by men of any reflection, especially by men desirous 
of some escape from the obligation all feel they are under to 
hear the word of God, and to keep it, is seized upon as an 
argument against the Scriptures themselves, as the only rule 
of faith and duty; and not, as in justice it ought, as an argu- 
ment of the strongest kind against all such perversion of 
their use and neglect of their warning. Hence the deplora- 
ble ignorance of the Bible itself, which is so visible among 
the better informed and more active part of society, and the 
consequent indifference to the claims of revealed religion. 
Hence the approximations to infidelity, in the various shades 
of unbelief which the different systems of morality, as a sub- 



AN EPISCOPAL CHARGE. 201 

stitute for revealed religion, exhibit. And hence the preva- 
lence of that liberality of opinion in which they tolerate eve- 
ry thing as true, but "the truth as it is in Jesus." 

Upon men of less information of mind, and of little leisure 
for reading and reflection from the pressure of laborious oc- 
cupation, the injury is doubled; they not only become remiss 
in procuring and acquainting themselves with the Bible, 
but, from the example of those above them, to whom they 
more or less look up, are encouraged in that neglect of reli- 
gion — that surrender of themselves to the world and its pur- 
suits, and to the indulgence of the flesh, which, like the worm 
at the root of Jonah's gourd, separates the hope of man from 
its foundation, cuts asunder the ligaments of society, and 
blasts and withers the overshadowing love of God revealed 
in the gospel of his Son. 

Here, again, my reverend brethren, you are called upon 
to interpose, and, with all the earnestness and diligence 
which the love of souls and a deep sense of accountable duty 
can beget, to meet this wide-spread delusion with every ar- 
gument which revelation and reason can supply; to call back 
your flocks to the only foundation, in the word of God; to 
exhort them to the diligent perusal and study of its inspired 
wisdom; and, with the Bible in your hand, and the love of 
God in jour heart, explain and point out to them the con- 
nexion and dependence of its parts, the harmony of its doc- 
trines, the efficacy of its sacraments, the beauty and fitness 
of its order, and its sufficiency to answer the great purpose 
of its divine Author, in giving light — the light of life — to a 
benighted world, in order to "make them wise unto salva- 
tion." In fulfilling this imperious duty, fear not to expose 
those fallacious inventions of men which have obscured the 
simplicity and efficacy of the doctrine of Christ — which have 
led men's minds into the devious mazes of error and unset- 
tled opinion, and call loudly for the united efforts of all who 
value religious and civil liberty, to engage heartily in. this 
work. Take St. Paul's rule, as expressed in the first Epistle 
to the Thessalonians, to govern and encourage you in this 
part of your duty in particular: — "But, as we were allowed 
of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; 
not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts." And 



202 AN EPISCOPAL CHARGE. 

thus shall you be fortified against that "fear of man," which 
u brinoreth a snare." 

We are but a small body, my reverend brethren; but, by 
the good blessing of our God upon us, we are increasing. 
Help hath come forth for us from his right hand, during the 
past Conventional year; and, if we continue faithful, we may 
confidently look for its continuance. Let this hope, then, 
animate us all to renewed diligence in those duties, in the 
faithful discharge of which only can we expect "to save our 
own souls and the souls of those who hear us." 

To you, my brethren of the laity, it is also my duty to pre- 
sent such admonition, on those interests of the Church which 
depend on your co-operation, and can be promoted by the 
countenance and support you give to her ministrations. 

l>ow, this is confined chiefly to three things: 

First, your own deportment, whether as members and 
friends, or members and communicants of the Church. 

The most efficient support which the members of the 
Church can give to her advancement, is by their own per- 
sonal religion. This is literally "manifesting the tree by its 
fruit," and is "an epistle of Christ, to be read of all men." 
If therefore you really and truly desire the prosperity of the 
Church, from whatever cause this desire may proceed, labor, 
and strive, and pray, that you may imbibe the spirit of her 
doctrines; that you may manifest the purity of her discipline; 
that yon may experience the efficacy of her means of grace; 
and, by thus promoting the cause of the Church, which is 
one and the same with the cause of true religion, promote 
and secure, at the same time, the salvation of your own soul. 

Another very effectual means of promoting the interests 
and advancement of the Church, is, exact conformity to the 

COURSK AND ORDER SHE HATH PRESCRIBED FOR HER PUBLIC SER- 

vi< is. And in this there will be no difficulty, while her dis- 
tinctive character is understood and felt; because this gives 
a point and impression to her ministrations, which belongs 
not to those who have separated themselves from her com- 
lmmion. Occasional conformity, therefore, by which is 
meant, a mixed attendance upon the Church and upon those 
who dissent from her — sometimes with the one, sometimes 



AN EPISCOPAL CHAEGE. 203 

with the other — is so far in opposition to her advancement, 
as it is sure to keep the person thus acting unfixed and wa- 
vering. Where there is no settled principle there can be no 
consistent conduct; and experience teaches us, that it is only 
what we love that we lay ourselves out for. 

The peculiar situation of the Church at present, and for 
many years back, whereby the congregations can only be oc- 
casionally supplied, has had a tendency to lessen the daiiger 
of this practice, in the opinions of Christians, and to induce 
many who nevertheless have a true regard for the Church, to 
attend the services of others, when they had none of their 
own. Now, while it may be said, that hereby a good example 
was given of reverence for the Sabbath, and good instruction 
was received from the Sermon delivered, it is not considered, 
on the other hand, that countenance has also been given to 
ministrations -which the Church considers irregular and in- 
valid — not to say schismatical; and that, by this kind of con- 
duct, we actually encourage the dangerous delusion, that one 
system of doctrine is as true as another, and one Church just 
as safe as another; and thus, without meaning it, perhaps, 
pull down with one hand the fabric we are rearing with 
another. For, according to St. Paul's reasoning, in a parallel 
case, "If any man see thee, which hast knowledge, sit at 
meat in the idol's temple, shall not the conscience of him 
which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are 
offered to idols? — and, through thy knowledge, shall the 
weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?" But, though 
it is to be lamented that the different congregations cannot 
be supplied with regular services on every Sunday, yet is every 
family provided with the means of spending the vacant day 
profitably and to edification at home, in the Liturgy, Scrip- 
tures, and standard writers of the Church; so that every 
member of the family may have this advantage, which some 
must be deprived of if they have any distance to travel to 
the place of meeting. 

As this want of conformity, therefore, to principle and 
order as Churchmen, is not defended by any necessity, is 
well provided against in the use of the Liturgy, Scriptures, 
and standard writers, and has an evident tendency to retard, 
rather than to promote the advancement of the Church, I 



204 AN EPISCOPAL CHARGE. 

trust that you, my lay brethren, will take in good part the 
admonition now given, and, by future steadfastness, show 
that you are members of the Church rather from principle 
than from mere choice and convenience; and that, as your 
affection, understanding, and interests, are all on the side of 
the Church, so will your conduct declare it, by "continuing 
steadfast in the Apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in 
breaking of bread and in prayers." 

A third and most important means for the advancement of 
the Church, exclusively in the power of the laity, is found in 

THE EDUCATION OF THE RISING GENERATION. 

But a little while, my clerical and lay brethren, and the 
place that now knows us will know us no more. Who, then, 
is to succeed to that blessed hope, through the power of 
which we contemplate this awful change without dismay, if 
not with desire? Surely it is bound upon every father, upon 
every mother, upon every Christian who himself rejoices "in 
hope of the glory of God," to do what in him lies to perpetu- 
ate that foundation on which this hope is built. 

To education, then, we must look, not only for the future 
advancement, but for the very being of the Church. If re- 
ligion is not instilled in early life, if it begin not in our fam- 
ilies, and continue not to be carefully cultivated throughout 
the whole period of juvenile instruction, we shall in vain look 
for its prevalence in the world. Not to detain you on what 
is so evident — what you are so solemnly pledged to in the 
baptismal covenant — I will mention what I consider as in- 
jurious and inconsistent, in the performance of this duty. 

First — The neglect of early catechetical instruction; that is, 
preparing your children for public examination on the Cate- 
chism, in the Church, by the clergyman. This, my own ex- 
perience tells me, is sadly neglected in many places; and 
thus is lost the most favorable time to lay a good foundation, 
and to implant those sound and saving principles, which 
grow with their growth, and strengthen with, their strength. 

Secondly — An alarming carelessness as to the religious 
tenets of those to whom that part of the education of our 
children is committed, which has to be completed at a dis- 
tance from the parents and guardians of youth. That this 
also is a negligence which calls loudly for a remedy, must be 



Atf EPISCOPAL CHARGE. 205 

most evident. That it betrays an indifference, a deadness to 
religion, a want of serious heartfelt impression of its awful 
realities, is to me the most distressing symptom. And it is 
my duty, my brethren, to direct my attention rather to those 
things which mark the general than the particular indica- 
tions of religious impression among the members of the 
Church. 

"When, therefore, we see Christians, so called, sending their 
children to Jews, to educate; when we see Protestants trust- 
ing their offspring to Roman Catholics to train up; when we 
see believers in the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ surren- 
dering their sons and their daughters to professed Unitarian 
teachers; and Episcopalians committing the hope of the 
Church to Dissenters; what can be the conclusion, but that 
such an indifference on the subject of religion generally, and 
such carelessness on its particular distinctions, prevails, as is 
sufficient to alarm every serious mind? And as no necessity, 
nor yet commanding convenience, can be pleaded for this in- 
consistency, (for it is the wealthy who thus risk their children, 
and by a little concert with each other might remove the re- 
proach,) it calls the more loudly for this notice from me to 
the lay members of the Church. I pretend not to insinuate 
that the general advantages of education may not thus be ob- 
tained; nor yet do I say that any system of proselyting is in 
these schools carried on. But this I say, without the slightest 
fear of contradiction, that either there is no attention paid to 
religious instruction at all, or it partakes of the character of 
that which is professed by the teachers. Upon you in par- 
ticular, my Episcopal brethren, I am bound to press this 
subject, as of the last importance to the well-being of the 
Church; and to warn you, that however careful you may be 
in laving the foundation in infancv, if you afterwards com- 
mit your children to those who are the enemies of your faith, 
the most you can hope for is, that it will not be pulled down. 
You cannot reasonably expect that it will be built up, as you 
would have it to be, if sincere in your own profession. 

To your serious consideration, then, my brethren of the 
clergy and laity, I commit these remarks, trusting that their 
deep importance to our general and particular well-being, as 
a religious body, will gain them that attention which they 



206 AN EPISCOPAL CHARGE. 

deserve. And, wishing you a safe return to your respective 
places of abode, I beg you to take with you the assurance of 
the deep interest I feel in your prosperity and happiness 
individually, and of the prosperity and increase of the Church 
over which I am called to watch. 



AN EPISCOPAL CHARGE, 

DELIVERED TO THE 

CONVENTION OF THE PROTESTANT EPISCOPAL CHURCH, 
Assembled in Hillsborough, N. C, in May 1826. 



Mr brethren of the Clergy and Laity: — The important 
interests to which your attention has been directed during 
the session of this Convention, are calculated to engage the 
most earnest endeavors that the counsels agreed upon for the 
advancement of the Church, and the kingdom of the Re- 
deemer, should be successful. But to this end it is not only 
necessary that the measures directed by this body should be 
correct in principle, and required by the interests of the 
Church, but practically attainable, also, by the reasonable 
abilitv of the members. That such is the character of the 
resolutions you have now come to, must be evident to all who 
consider the magnitude of the objects to be attained, with the 
means which are at the reasonable disposal of the represen- 
tatives of the Church. 

Past experience, however, teaches us, that neither the 
necessity nor the advantage of a particular measure, nor yet 
the ability to carry it into effect, are in themselves sufficient 
to insure general co-operation. The Convention of the Church, 
though the proper representative of the particular congrega- 
tions comprising it, and in fact a legislative body; yet, as it is 
clothed with no coercive power, is liable to find its best de- 
vised and best intended measures paralyzed, if not altogether 
defeated, by the negligence or indifference of its constituents. 

That this every way indefensible, and, if much longer con- 
tinued, most ruinous state of insubordination to the funda- 
mental principle of all regularly associated bodies, is, in our 
particular case, my brethren, the consequence of inconside- 
ration in some, and want of proper information in others, I 
am well persuaded; and am, therefore, induced to give my 
annual Charge to the diocese such a direction as may tend 



208 AN EPISCOPAL CHARGE. 

to obviate this evil, by laving; before, the members of the 
Church such a plain, yet concise view of the popular nature 
of our frame of ecclesiastical government, as shall tend to 
engage and secure the ready concurrence and co-operation of 
all our members in favor of the measures agreed upon, either 
for particular or general good, by the regularly elected rep- 
resentatives of the particular congregations ol the diocese at 
large. 

The first delegation of power and authority by the mem- 
bers individually, is that committed to the Vestries of each 
particular congregation. These are bodies of men, varying 
in number according to the constitution of particular dio- 
ceses, but most commonly limited to twelve, annually chosen 
by a majority of the votes of each particular congregation; 
and form, as it were, the legislative council of the parish or 
congregation by which they are elected. To the Vestries it 
appertains to direct and transact the secular concerns of the 
congregation; to assess and collect the pecuniary contributions 
required of the members; to appoint the delegates to the 
diocesan Conventions; to elect the church-wardens out of their 
own body; and to act as counsellors and assessors with their 
clergyman, if required, in cases of discipline, and other mat- 
ters of common concern. They are also required to keep a 
regular record of the members of the congregation, of the 
marriages, baptisms, aud burials, in the parish or congrega- 
tion, and to enter a statement of their proceedings at every 
meeting. 

To the Church-wardens it more especially belongs, to take 
care of the church buildings; of the communion plate, books 
and vestments; to provide the elements for the holy com- 
munion, at the common expense; to maintain order and de- 
corum during public worship; and to regulate the necessary 
provision for the poor of the parish. It is their duty also, in 
the absence, or at the desire of the minister, to preside ac- 
cording to seniority of appointment, at all meetings of the 
vestry; to direct the entries to be made by the secretary ac- 
cording to the determination of the majority; to sign the pro- 
ceedings of each meeting; and to certify all extracts from the 
records, particularly all certificates of delegation to the dio- 
icsan Conventions. ' i 



AN EPISCOPAL CHARGE. 209 

From this brief view of the appointment and purpose of 
vestries it must be evident, I think, that provision is made 
for the administration of parochial affairs upon the most 
popular model compatible with order and effect. The vestry- 
men being themselves members of the congregation, must be 
intimately acquainted with the condition and circumstances 
of their constituents; and as they must themselves be affected, 
in a proportional degree, by the resolves of the vestry, every 
security is obtained that nothing like oppression or injustice 
towards the rest of the members will be attempted. But 
even if such a case should occur, the congregation retains 
the remedy in their own hands, in the annual elections. 

The next delegation of power and authority from the mem- 
bers of the Church, is that which is exercised mediately, 
through the vestries, in the appointment of lay delegates to 
the diocesan Conventions. 

These bodies are, to the dioceses at large, what the par- 
ticular vestries are to the several congregations composing 
them: the only difference between them being that which 
arises from the charge and management of general and par- 
ticular interests, and the consequently superior importance 
of their determinations. 

To the diocesan Conventions, and of course to this body a8 
such, it appertains to consult and provide for the general 
interests of the diocese; to enact, amend, or repeal canons, or 
laws ecclesiastical, for the regulation of the members at large; 
to elect the Bishop, to appoint the standing committee, or 
council of advice for the Bishop, to choose the clerical and 
lay delegates to represent the diocese in the triennial Con- 
ventions of the General Church in these United States; and 
to assess and regulate the pecuniary contributions which are 
required for the general interests. And as the particular 
vestries are the organs through which the enactments of the 
diocesan Conventions are carried into effect, so are the dio- 
cesan conventions also the organs whereby the General Con- 
vention fulfils its still higher and more comprehensive duties. 
Through these, as links in the chain, the frame of our eccle- 
siastical government is compacted together by joints and 
bands which are essentially popular. It is based upon the 
will of the majority of the members, personally exercised in 
[Vol. 1,— *14.] 



210 AS EPISCOPAL CHARGE. 

the immediate election of the vestries, and it returns to them 
again in the annual control which they retain over those 
elections; and that they may act with judgment on their af- 
fairs, provision is made for their full information by the pub- 
lic manner in which the conventions hold their sessions, and 
bv the general dissemination of the annual journals of their 
proceedings. 

With a frame of ecclesiastical government as di recti v as- 
similated to, and equally as congenial with, the civil institu- 
tions of our countrv as that of anv other known religious de- 
nomination in it, Episcopalians may surely be permitted to 
express their sorrow that so persevering an effort should have 
been made to impress upon the public mind the false and 
unfounded persuasion, that the principles of their govern- 
ment and the tenets of their religious belief, are alike hos- 
tile to the free and happy institutions of this favored land; 
and to indulge the hope, that both those who circulate and 
those who receive so injurious and uncharitable a misrepre- 
sentation, will at least take the pains to be more truly in- 
formed. As, however, the remainder of a most unhappy 
prejudice has been widely spread, and long entertained, I 
ieel it due to the interests committed to me, to show further, 
that in the administration of the frame of government adopted 
by the Protestant Episcopal Church in these United States, 
nothing contrary to the will of the individual members of 
the Church, expressed by a majority of their representatives, 
can be forced upon them. Every Bishop is elected by the 
votes of the Clergy and laity of the diocese, assembled in 
Convention; every pastor of a particular parish or congrega- 
tion, is called to the charge by the vestry of the parish; and 
the vestry being elected by the members themselves, every 
precaution is taken, that as the whole is instituted for the 
common benefit, common consent shall be the basis from 
which all necessary power and authority to administer the 
system with advantage and effect, shall spring. Nothing 
despotic, nothing unregulated by laws passed by the repre- 
sentatives of the members of the Church, is admitted in the 
constitution of the Protestant Episcopal Church. Even the 
Bishop is only an executive officer, restrained and directed 
by express canons in the exercise of the authority committed 



AN EPISCOPAL CHARGE. 211 

to him; the only absolute power possessed by him being that 
of a negative nature, and this confined to matters purely 
conscientious — such as the refusal to admit a candidate for 
ordination, although recommended by the examiners as in 
their judgment qualified to receive orders; and cases of a like 
nature. A bishop can neither suspend, displace, nor degrade 
a clergymanfotherwise than as the canons direct. Nor can 
a clergyman exercise the discipline of the Church upon a 
communicant, except according to the rubrics and canons, 
and ultimately liable to the decision of the bishop, to whom, 
in every such case, an appeal lies. 

Every security being thus taken against the oppressive 
exercise of the authority confided to the different officers who 
are appointed to administer its affairs, and no authority be- 
ing conferred but what is absolutely necessary for the edifi- 
cation of the body, it should surely be a prevailing argument 
with Episcopalians to respect and support their ecclesiastical 
constitution, by the observance of all the duties it imposes 
upon them. 

And first, they owe to their own interest, to the credit and 
welfare of the Church, and to the advancement of true reli- 
gion, a CONSCIENTIOUS PERFORMANCE OF THEIR RIGHT AND DUTY 
IN THE ELECTION OF THE MEMBERS OF THE VESTRY. On this 

every thing may be said to depend, because to the vestries 
all subsequent measures for the year are referred. And not 
only is it a conscientious duty that every member of the 
Church should personally attend on the annual election day, 
but that he should vote also for those persons who, for their 
piety, their standing in public estimation, and other qualifi- 
cations combined, give the best assurance of a faithful and 
profitable performance of the trust committed to them. In 
electing these men, respect should be had, in the first place, 
to their standing as Christians; — a Christian body should 
surely be represented by Christians. In truth, it is desirable, 
that in every case the representatives of the Church should 
be communicants. But as this unhappily is not in all cases 
possible, it is therefore not insisted upon; nor is any particu- 
lar congregation, or the Church at large, debarred by any 
regulation froni the services of those friendly laymen, whose 

/ 



212 AN EPISCOPAL CHARGE. 

orderly lives, and respect for religion, encourage the happy 
hope that they are "not far from the kingdom of God." 
Secondly, they owe it to conscience and to consistency, to 

OBEY THE REGULATIONS, TO CAEEY ESTTO EFFECT THE LAWFUL RE- 
SOLUTIONS AND ENACTMENTS OF THEIR REPRESENTATIVES. As 

the members of a particular Church are morally bound by 
the acts of their vestry, so are all the congregatrons in a dio- 
cese, equally bound by the acts of their Convention; and all 
the Conventions of this country by the acts of the General 
Conventions of this Church. And the ground of this obli- 
gation is plain and obvious. As the individual members are 
bound by every principle of right reason to perform the du- 
ties and fulfil the engagements growing out of the lawful acts 
of their immediate representatives, so are these also, in the 
same manner, equally bound by the lawful acts of their im- 
mediate representatives, up to the highest judicatory known 
to the Church. 

From this very brief but just statement of the popular 
principle upon which the frame of our ecclesiastical govern- 
ment is founded, the members of the Church in this diocese, 
I trust, will be induced to pay more attention to the election 
of their immediate representatives, and feel that the care- 
lessness and indifference, too frequently manifested as to this 
duty, is, in fact, a surrender at once of private and public 
obligation, and a mark of great laxity of principle, both as 
churchmen and Christians. 

As an additional and very powerful reason to give the 
whole of this subject the serious consideration its real im- 
portance demands, I would remark, that as the whole power 
possessed by the administrative bodies of the Church is of a 
moral nature, and dependant for its effect on the influence 
of this principle over the members, all unnecessary neglect 
of the personal duties consequent on the right of election by 
them, of the relative duty of representatives, with all refusal 
to carry into effect the decisions of the vestries and Conven- 
tions, is, so far, very conclusive proof of the weakness of the 
moral principle — of indifference to the interests of religion — 
and of disregard for the only just and safe ground on which 



AN EPISCOPAL CHARGE. 213 

either civil or religious liberty can be maintained, viz: sub- 
mission to the will of the majority, constitutionally declared. 
Let not, then, the Church of which we are happily mem- 
bers, have to take up the reproach of her great Founder and 
Head, as expressed by the prophet Isaiah, "I have nourished 
and brought up children, and they have rebelled against 
me." Our nursing mother appeals to us for support; let us 
not prove ourselves unnatural children by devouring the 
breasts which we have sucked, and refusing the support and 
defence which our spiritual parent requires in the day of her 
need. She has given all to her children; she has reserved 
nothing for herself, but the comfort and consolation which 
spring from unfeigned love and devoted attachment in them, 
grounded on the irrefragable testimony of heaven and earth 
united in favor of her divine origin and saving purpose, as 
held and maintained by the Protestant Episcopal Church in 
these United States. 



: ■ I 

AN EPISCOPAL CHARGE, 

DELIVERED TO THE 

CONVENTION OF THE PROTESTANT EPISCOPAL CHURCH, 
Assembled in Fayetteville, N. C, in May 1828. 



My Brethren of this Convention: Among the various 
subjects of general interest to the Church in this Diocese, 
which your own observation, the Episcopal Journal, and the 
Parochial Reports, present for particular consideration, none 
seems more worth} 7 of special notice, or more called for by 
existing circumstances, than the relation in which the minis- 
try and the members of the Church stand to each other, and 
the obligations thence mutually arising. 

From various causes, the difficulty of obtaining and retain- 
ing a supply of clergymen for our fixed congregations, seems 
to be increasing. This necessarily adds heavily to the many 
other anxieties which press upon me; and more especially when 
I look forward to the more than probable removal of more of 
our very limited number. Under so serious an obstacle to 
the progress and prosperity of the Church in this diocese, my 
thoughts have necessarily been much occupied in searching" 
out the cause, and in providing to counteract it; and I feel 
constrained by a sense of duty, deepened by my increasing 
bodily infirmities, to present the result in this way, to the 
attention of this body — in the hope that it may prove bene- 
ficial, not only by conveying information, but by bringing 
this vital, but certainly much neglected subject, closer, both 
to the understanding and to the feelings of those interested, 
than it can possibly be, while viewed with the indifference 
and want of interest which our population manifests. 

Religion in the abstract, and revealed religion with insti- 
tuted means of grace, are things totally different from each 
other, my brethren. Natural religion, as it has been called, 
is a mere creature of the imagination, which never did, ano! 



216 AH EPISCOPAL CHARGE. 

which never could, exist in a fallen world, laboring- under 
the palsy of spiritual death. In whatever degree, therefore, 
we assume the gratuitous reasonings derived from either ab- 
stract or natural religion as the ground of duty and hope to- 
wards God, we depart from the only foundation, and prepare 
the way for infidelity and indifference to triumph under the 
guise of external morality. ~Nov are there wanting in the 
judgment of him who addresses you, strong indications, from 
the actual condition of society in Christian lands in regard to 
revealed religion, that some such deleterious principle is in 
operation, indisposing the minds of men to give that close 
and earnest attention to the subject, which it most surely 
merits, as a special institution and appointment of the wis- 
dom of God; and seducing them to rest satisfied with the 
hasty conclusions of indolent or ill-directed research, and to 
receive unquestioned, the comparatively modern inventions 
of men, as "the faith once delivered to the saints." To cor- 
rect this dangerous delusion, therefore — or rather to avert 
its pestiferous influence from the charge committed to my 
accountability — and to prepare the way for the particular 
subject of this address, the following preliminary remarks 
are submitted. 

To derive advantage from any institution of a moral and 
spiritual nature, it is evident that the institution must be un- 
derstood and applied in the extent and integrity of its ap- 
pointments. Hence, as religion is the most commanding in- 
terest which moral beings can either reflect or act upon, it 
claims the most serious investigation, and the most diligent 
and unreserved application of its directions and precepts. 
To expect to reap the benefits which it is intended to confer, 
without resorting to the means appointed to that end, is to 
vacate religion as a reasonable service, and to reduce the 
first duty and the highest attainment of accountable man to 
such an uncertainty as paralyzes the one, and renders the 
other altogether fortuitous; a state of things, when considered 
in connexion with moral condition, productive only of heart- 
less disregard, or of wild enthusiasm. Like its Almighty 
Author, religion must be sought unto; for the happiness of a 
future state is proposed to mankind, not as the fate of their 



AN EPISCOPAL CHAKGE. 217 

nature, but as the reward of their duty, faithfully and reli- 
giously performed. 

The same obvious and rational principle pervades what- 
ever is connected with religion as a practical duty. Hence, 
in the provision which the wisdom of God hath made, that 
the ordinances of his grace for the salvation of sinners shall 
be ministered to their fellows by men of like passions with 
themselves, the same foundation for confidence and assurance 
is given, with that on which the religion itself rests for its 
obligation upon men, viz: the authority and appointment of 
heaven — that authority and designation to office, which was 
originally certified to the world "by signs and wonders and 
mighty works," by "the power of the Holy Ghost," and is 
to be verified to the end of time no otherwise than by deri- 
vation from this root. 

As, therefore, no well informed and serious man will take 
his religion on a lower authority than from God, the reason 
is equally strong, that he should require from those who un- 
dertake to administer its ordinances to him, that their au- 
thority for so doing shall be derived from the same source. 
And as, in the one case, the ground of his belief that his re- 
ligion is divine and true, rests on the proper testimony that 
it came forth from God; so likewise in the other case, the 
authority to act for God, in the external appointments of re- 
ligion, should first be ascertained by its proper testimony, 
before any rational confidence can be derived from partici- 
pation of its ordinances, as means of grace. 

These appear to be principles which carry their truth and 
certainty, and consequently their obligation to moral beings, 
so undeniably in the very terms in which they are expressed; 
and are, moreover, so intimately connected with the comfort 
and assurance of religious condition; that it may be conceived 
superfluous to present them to such a body as that now be- 
fore me. Yet when it is considered, that man}' equally un- 
deniable truths are assented to in terms, and forthwith laid 
aside — that many most concerning truths are rendered null 
and void, bj the influence of ignorance, prejudice, and pre- 
possession — that the effect of popular opinion, moulded into 
a particular form, can clothe error, and particularly religious 
error, with the properties of truth — and that the as yet loose 



218 AN EPISCOPAL CHARGE. 

and ill-considered views of many who call themselves epis- 
copalians, are all interested to escape from this close scrutiny 
into religion as a revealed appointment of God, I trust, that 
neither my intention in presenting them, nor their own in- 
trinsic importance, will be mistaken or overlooked by those 
to whom I address myself, and with whose comfort here, and 
hope hereafter, they are so closely allied. Moreover, when 
it is taken into consideration that loose, indefinite, and mere 
general notions, on so momentous a subject as salvation, ope- 
rate to produce indifference and disregard as to the external 
appointments of religion; and to induce a supine acquiescence 
in whatever bears a resemblance to the gospel, and is pro- 
fessed with a claim to superior sanctity; and that this is in 
truth the prevalent state of the public mind, in the present 
day; it is hoped that what has been said, with the views about 
to be submitted on tlie subject of the Christian Ministry, will 
neither be deemed superfluous nor out of season, in the pre- 
sent circumstances of the Church in this diocese. 

The Christian ministry being an appointment of Almighty 
God for the benefit of redeemed man, the connexion between 
the pastor and his flock is spiritual in its nature — refers ex- 
clusively to the care of their souls, and has no concern with 
their temporal affairs, only as these affect their religious con- 
dition. Its object and purpose is accordingly expressed in 
Scripture by the word "edification," which comprises instruc- 
tion, exhortation, warning, reproof, correction, and example 
— and, as necessary, indeed indispensable preliminaries, 
knowledge, experience, piety, and authority. So very obvi- 
ous is this, as justly to excite surprise that the qualifications 
derived from education should come to be so lightly esteemed, 
and the importance of a lawful commission disregarded, by 
any who call themselves Christians. Yet it is the unhappy 
condition of much of Christendom, as well as of our own 
country, to labor under the delusion, that piety, however ig- 
norant, with pretensions to the ministerial office destitute of 
all proof — indeed utterly incapable of any other proof than 
the mere assertion of the party — are safe and allowable sub- 
stitutes for such plain and necessary pre-requisites, in who- 
ever undertakes to act between God and man in high con- 
cerns of salvation. 



/ 



AN EPISCOPAL CHARGE. 219 

This office being spiritual in its nature, and concerned ex- 
clusively with spiritual things, must be derived from God, 
there being no other source of spiritual communication and 
authority to mankind, but God the Holt Ghost. Being de- 
rived from God, it must be the object of faith, that is, of firm 
and considered confidence, that it is thence derived; and be- 
ing the object of faith, it must be grounded on, and be in 
conformity with the revealed word of God; that being to men 
the only ground and rule of faith, as to all spiritual things, 
God himself excepted, who is necessarily prior to and inde- 
pendent of any communication of himself to created beings. 

Considered in this light, which is submitted as the just and 
scriptural view of the nature and object of the Christian 
ministry, the high responsibility of the pastoral office is evi- 
denced by its origin, by its purpose, and by the sanctions 
wherewith it is enforced. And as the responsibility of the 
office refers chiefly to you, my brethren of the clergy, and its 
importance and use refers in like manner to you, my breth- 
ren of the laity, I shall be guided by this distinction in what 
I propose to say on this subject. 

First, its origin. This being divine, and the office to be 
no otherwise undertaken than by the direct influence of God 
the Holy Ghost, imagination can ascend no higher, as re- 
spects either the responsibility or the dignity of the Chris- 
tian priesthood. As ambassadors from Christ, and acting 
in his stead in the awful controversy between heaven and 
earth, occasioned by sin; as entrusted with the ministry of 
reconciliation, and authorized to declare the conditions, and 
to administer the divinely instituted pledges, of pardon and 
acceptance, to a world that lieth in rebellion and wickedness; 
your office, my reverend brothers, is eminently one of un- 
ceasing labor, of constant watchfulness, of deep anxiety, and 
of unshaken fidelity; requiring that entire surrender of your- 
selves to this great work, and that abiding sense of the re- 
sponsibility you are under, without which the expectation is 
vain that it will be so exercised as to be profitable either to 
yourselves or to others. But it is likewise an office in which 
the most powerful motives to exertion are presented, and 
supported by the brightest hopes, the most unfailing assu- 



220 AN EPISCOPAL CHAEGE. 

ranees; and energy and activity in the performance of duty 
are prompted and encouraged by the highest considerations 
which an accountable being can contemplate. The balance, 
therefore, is held with an even hand by the wisdom of God 
in this appointment. As your responsibility is great, so is 
your help mighty: as your labor is unceasing, so is your wa- 
ges beyond all price: as your privations are many, so are your 
consolations firm and steadfast as His word, who hath pro- 
mised to "be with you always, even unto the end of the world." 
Of the same divine character is the evidence by which the 
designation of particular persons to this office and ministry 
by the Holy Ghost is certified to men. The ministerial of- 
fice being for the benefit of third persons in things pertain- 
ing to God, must, from the very nature of the office, be the 
subject matter of proper proof that it is derived from him; 
otherwise, that faith, "without which it is impossible to 
please God," and according to which the effect of the ordi- 
nances of religion, as divinely instituted means of grace, is 
expressly limited, must be wanting, and its place be supplied 
either by the formality of customary assent, or by the con- 
fused workings of an unbalanced mind rushing without dis- 
cernment to assumed assurance of spiritual benefit. Hence, 
at the commencement of Christianity, miraculous gifts point- 
ed out to an astonished world the particular persons to whom 
Christ had previously committed the charge of establishing 
and governing his Church. These were incontestible proofs 
of a divine commission — and it was to these that the apostle 
referred the obligation of Jew and Gentile to believe and 
embrace the gospel. The first ministers of Christ went not 
forth claiming to be sent of God without credentials suitable 
to their high and holy office. The world was not required to 
believe them on their naked assertion that they were called 
of God and sent to preach the gospel. Nor is it now required 
to receive any as ministers of Christ upon so uncertain a se- 
curity as an unsupported and unproveable assertion. For as 
Christ's commission to teach and baptize the nations was 
originally certified to the world by miraculous attestation to 
his apostles personally; it is only as derived from them, by a 
verifiable succession, that a true and lawful ministry is to be 
ascertained since miracles have ceased. And as the fact is 



AN EPISCOPAL CHARGE. 

equally certain to third persons by the one testimony as by 
the other, the ground of Christian assurance is neither changed 
or lessened, nor the obligation or the efficacy of religious or- 
dinances impaired. And let it never be forgotten, my reve- 
rend and lay brethren, that the revealed religion of the Lord 
Jesus Christ, from its commencement to its close, in all its 
appointments, in all its requirements, in all its attainments, 
and in all its hopes, is a "reasonable service," resting upon 
divine faith pervading its whole structure. Its ministry and 
sacraments, then, as integral parts of the religion, and with- 
out which it cannot be savingly administered, must forever 
derive their authority and efficacy from divine institution; 
and the assurance of faith prove a delusion or a reality, ac- 
cording as it is built upon the foundation Christ hath laid, 
as exhibited to the world by his holy apostles, received and 
acted upon by the primitive Church, and recorded in the in- 
spired Scriptures of our faith; or as it is assumed upon some 
invention of man, utterly devoid of that testimony to divine 
origin and authority, upon which alone a rational being is pre- 
sumed to rest the unspeakable interests of eternal condition. 
To place the ministerial office, then, upon any other, or 
upon lower ground, than as derived from God, is at once to 
vacate the responsibility of the office to him who holds it, 
and to defeat its use and efficacv to those for whose benefit 
it is instituted. For if less than divine in its origin, it is not 
perceived how any man can with truth and understanding 
say, that he is moved by the Holt Ghost to undertake it; or 
where the only proper testimony to this its divine origin is 
wanting, how any thing deserving the name of Christian as- 
surance can be derived to those whose spiritual condition is 
inseparably connected with the visible sacraments of the 
visible Church of Christ. Nor need we be in the smallest 
degree afraid to assign the low and erroneous views as to the 
origin and proof of the Christian ministry, which the divi- 
sions and separations among Christians have forced into cur- 
rency, as one of the chief causes of the disregard of religious 
ordinances, and indifference to and disuse of the instituted 
means of grace, and of the consequent decline of vital godli- 
ness, which casts so awful a shade over the otherwise happy 
condition of this favored country. 



222 AN EPISCOPAL CHARGE. 

But, my reverend brothers, it is a part of the responsibili- 
ty of your sacred office, to magnify that office — not only by 
adorning your divine commission as ambassadors of Christ, 
and stewards of the mysteries of God, by a holy life, and by 
unwearied and faithful exertions for the advancement of his 
kingdom, but by asserting its high derivation, and by de- 
monstrating its inseparable connexion with the revealed hope 
of the gospel. To be silent on this fundamental subject to 
those of your charge, is to be unfaithful to them, and unjust 
to yourselves; while it serves to cherish the delusion in others, 
that because pretensions to ministerial character unsupported 
by verifiable succession from the apostles of Christ as the 
only root of unity in his visible Church, are unquestioned, 
that therefore they may be relied on. We can look back, 
reverend brothers, on a wide and wasteful desolation of the 
fold of Christ, through remissness on this primary and fun- 
damental subject. Let past experience, then, teach us to 
pursue a wise course for the time to come. We can look 
forward to a most powerful host of prejudice and party ar- 
rayed against us; but let us not therefore be cast down. Truth 
must at last prevail over error — and by turning the public 
mind to a sounder judgment on the concerning subject of re- 
ligion, prepare the way for its final triumph over all opposi- 
tion, and for that union among Christians, which forms the 
beajity and the strength of the gospel. 

If we consider, in the second place, the purpose of the 
Christian ministry, the view here taken of its origin, and of 
the proof by which it is verified, will, it is humbly conceived, 
be confirmed. Xow this purpose is threefold. The first is, 
the communication of the discoveries of the gospel to man- 
kind, in order to recover them from the ruin and misery of 
sin, and from eternal death as its wages. The second is, to 
transact the conditions of this recovery, receiving the sub- 
mission of penitent sinners, and by administering to such the 
divinely instituted pledges of pardon and adoption into the 
family of God. The third is, to watch over the household of 
faith, thus gathered into one body; to provide for their in- 
struction in righteousness, and to exercise the discipline of 
Christ, for the peace and edification of the Church. ISfow, 



AN EPISCOPAL CHARGE. 223 

to either of these purposes siDglj — and much more to all of 
them collectively, as the sum of ministerial duty — a divine 
commission and authority to act is indispensable, too, prior 
to any performance of the duty. For, "How shall they preach 
except they be sent?" Or, Who has any natural right to ad- 
minister the sacraments of the gospel? Or, who are bound 
to submit themselves to discipline, where no lawful authority 
to inflict censure is possessed? Above all, who will be found 
to regard the discipline of Christ, unless upon the firm per- 
suasion, amounting to fixed faith, that to be justly cut off 
from the peace and privileges of his visible Church upon 
earth, is a virtual excision of such persons from the "Church 
of the first-born, which are written in heaven?" 

Evident as this must be to every reasonable mind, and 
confirmed as it is by the analogies of all social bodies, the 
subject presents itself with the highest interest to the con- 
sideration of believers, when viewed as the express appoint- 
ment of the wisdom of God, in the structure of that religion 
which he hath revealed to fallen man for his salvation. In 
that religion as established by its divine Author, the unity 
of the Church, and the assurance of faith, are inseparably 
connected with Christ's commission to preach and baptize 
the nations. But this commission was not given to the whole 
body of believers who embraced the gospel during his per- 
sonal ministry; nor yet to his Church, properly so called: for 
the Church of Christ was not organized and set up in this 
world until the day of Pentecost. Christ's commission was 
given exclusively to the eleven, who continued with him in 
his temptations, and with whom he continued for forty days 
after his resurrection, "speaking to them of the things per- 
taining to the kingdom of God." It was to them, and to 
them only, that he said, "As my Father hath sent me, even 
so send I you." His passion being accomplished, the pur- 
chase of redemption completed, and a kingdom conquered 
from sin and death, then it was, that he conferred on the 
eleven, and on their successors to the end of the world, au- 
thority to plant and govern his Church. "I appoint unto you 
a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me — All power 
is given unto me in heaven and upon earth," said the Saviour. 
"Go ye therefore into all the world and preach the gospel to 



224 AN EPISCOPAL CHARGE. 

every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be 
saved; he that believeth not shall be damned." It was when 
his resurrection had demonstrated his triumph over death 
and hell, that he transferred his divine commission to his 
eleven apostles; that he "breathed on them, and said unto 
them, Receive } T e the Holy Ghost. Whosesoever sins ye re- 
mit, they are remitted unto them; and whosesoever sins ye 
retain, they are retained." And it was when his glorious 
ascension into heaven had established his supreme dominion 
over a redeemed world, that he poured out upon them the 
Holy Ghost, to qualify them for their great work, and to 
certify to the world that they were messengers of heaven, 
and the depositaries of all lawful authority in "the kingdom 
of God's dear Son." 

In like manner, the sanctions by which ministerial duty is 
enforced, furnish a strong confirmation of the divine charac- 
ter of the Christian priesthood, and of its vital importance to 
the hope of man as derived from the gospel of Ciikist. As 
"no man taketh this honor unto himself, but he that is called 
of God, as was Aaron," the sanctions by which its duties are 
bound upon the conscience, are all of a spiritual and eternal 
character. "My kingdom is not of this world," said our 
blessed Lord. This world, therefore, and the things that are 
in it, are equally excluded from the motives to undertake 
office in the kingdom of CnuisT, and from the sanctions by 
which official dut} r is enforced. Eternity alone can furnish 
the reward, or inflict the punishment, which await the faith- 
ful, or the unfaithful, steward of the mysteries of God. As 
nothing of a temporal nature enters into the derivation of the 
Christian ministry, nothing of worldly enjoyment or suffering 
is referred to, as the end to be kept in view. You watch for 
souls, my reverend brothers, and for souls you must give ac- 
count; not with the loss or gain of worldly honors, dignities, 
and emoluments, but with your own souls. There is no alter- 
native — there is no escape from this condition, on which you 
hold and exercise your holy office. 

If, then, these things are so, and most surely believed 
among us: if they are confirmed by the standard of revealed 
truth, and by the stream of testimony in the Church, un- 
broken from the apostles through a period of fifteen hundred 



AN EPISCOPAL CHARGE. 225 

years and subsequently asserted and contended for by the 
confessors, martyrs, and fathers of that Church through 
which we derive our succession: if they form the distinctive 
principles of our communion, and constitute the very foun- 
dation on which we can either claim or be recognized as a 
true branch of the one catholic and apostolic Church in , 
which we profess to believe; they surely form a part of that 
necessary edification which the pastor owes to his flock, and 
without which the expectation is vain, as woful experience 
proves to us, that they should continue steadfast, and be en- 
abled to resist the various artifices now resorted to, to bring 
these fundamental principles into contempt, as illiberal and 
uncharitable — as infringements upon Christian liberty, and 
unsupported by the word of God. 

These are daring assertions, and though totally unfounded, 
and demonstrably opposed to the plainest principles of the 
doctrine of Christ, nevertheless the temerity and pertinacity 
with which they are announced, have given them an in- 
fluence over the ignorant and prejudiced, under the opera- 
tion of which, the gracious purposes of an infallible Scripture, 
a visible Church, and a divinely authorised ministry, in the 
salvation of sinners, are deprived of their appointed use; and 
the various shades of infidelity are fast ripening those bitter 
fruits of irreligion and departure from God, which shall com- 
plete the predicted apostacy of this latter day. 

Shall we, then, my reverend brethren, become accessory to 
this moral death of the immortal souls around us, by with- 
holding from the ignorant that instruction which they will 
no where else receive, and from the presumptuous, that 
warning without which their blood will be required at our 
hands? May God forbid. Shall we sit with folded hands, 
and see the Church of our faith and of our affections de- 
clining around us, under the influence of an infidel liberality 
which claims the concession, and brands as unchristian and 
uncharitable the refusal to acknowledge the most opposite 
systems of faith, as equally the doctrine of Christ — the most 
forced and discordant interpretations of Scripture, as equally 
the truth of God's most holy word — and the multiplied and 
disagreeing divisions of professed Christianity, as equally 
true branches of the Church of Christ, equally entitled to 
[Vol. 1,— *15.] 



226 AN EPISCOPAL CHARGE. 

the promises of God, and equally safe for salvation — without 
an effort in the fear of God, to arrest so deadly a delusion? 
Mo, my fellow laborers in the vineyard of the Lord, far be 
such apathy and indifference to the interests of our Zion, 
from our hearts and from our conduct. Let us then, take 
"the sword of the Spirit, and the shield of faith," and go 
forth against this modern Baal, to which so many of our sons 
and our daughters have been sacrificed. These are strictly 
the weapons of our warfare, and they are "mighty, through 
God, to pull down the strong holds of Satan." Especially 
are they mighty to meet this particular error, in all its various 
shapes; for it is from a broken and perverted Scripture only 
that it derives any semblance of support. 

The RELATION IN WHICH THIS SACRED OFFICE STANDS TO THE 

members of TUE Church, comes next to be considered. 

This has already been stated to he purely spiritual, and as 
such, to be of a more sacred character than the mere consent 
and agreement of the parties to stand in this relation to each 
other, could possibly give to it. A connection whose results 
are to be determined chiefly in another life, and with which 
the peace and comfort of the present life are very closely 
united, must undoubtedly carry along with it the highest 
claims to the serious consideration of every Christian people. 
For it is not a connection of choice or convenience merely, 
but one of indispensable necessity; without which, the ad- 
vantages of religious condition can neither be obtained nor 
continued. 

Viewed in this light, which is submitted as the just and 
scriptural view of the subject, the first obligation which this 
divine appointment for the administration of the grace of the 
gospel to men involves, is, that men provide themselves with 
ministers. No body of Christian people can continue to- 
prosper in their religious concerns, when deprived, for any 
length of time, of the services of the sanctuary. And ex- 
perience proves, that the most flourishing congregations 
quickly decline from the power of religion, and dwindle into 
utter decay, under this privation. 

The next obligation involved is, that the persons thus em- 
ployed to minister to the spiritual wants of the people, be 



AN EPISCOPAL CHARGE. 227 

true and lawful ministers of Christ. And this obligation 
rests upon the same ground of reason and propriety, whereby 
all other agencies are held to be valid or void, viz. power 
and authority from the principal to act in his behalf. As in 
temporal affairs, no qualifications for any particular office, 
however great; no desire to do good, and promote the wel- 
fare of the community, however sincere; nor yet any willing- 
ness on the part of others to reap the benefit of such qualifi- 
cations; can confer the right to assume office, and bind the 
State to recognize acts thus performed: in like manner in 
things spiritual, no qualifications of natural or acquired 
ability, however great; no piety, however ardent; no ac- 
knowledgment or solicitation of others, however general; can 
authorize the assumption of office in the kingdom of Cheist, 
or give any reasonable ground of assurance as to the benefit 
to be derived from it; for the benefit or advantage to third 
persons, is as inseparably tied to the authority to perform the 
act in things religious, as in the affairs of civil life. And 
just as certainly as confusion, disorder, and ultimate disso- 
lution of the frame and purpose of civil government, would 
follow the adoption of the principle that the qualifications 
for, or the desire to fill, an office, authorized the assumption 
thereof, and rendered the actings and doings of such agents 
obligatory upon the State; so sure it is, that the same dis- 
astrous consequences will follow the adoption of this prin- 
ciple in the administration of the gospel. And so obvious is 
this principle to common sense, and so clear the analogy by 
which it is supported, that it may well excite some feeling 
stronger than surprize, that Christians, with the Bible in 
their hands, should ever have given countenance to so pal- 
pable a delusion; and in particular, that episcopalians should 
so far have been blinded by this deceit, as to allow their 
prime distinction as a religious body to be undermined, 
undervalued, and finally exploded, by its operation. 

And notwithstanding the numbers who assert these liberal 
novelties — notwithstanding the reproach which attends those 
who denounce them as dangerous and destructive errors — I 
should be false to my solemn consecration vows, and to your 
eternal interests, my brethren of this convention, did I fail 
to assert, and to warn you, that the question of ministerial 



228 AN EPISCOPAL CHARGE. 

commission is a vital question; that is, is a question of the es- 
sence of revealed religion, and fundamental to the hope of 
the gospel. For this hope cannot be separated from the 
sacraments of the visible Church, any more than the sacra- 
ments can be separated from the right to administer them, as 
things pertaining to God. If men can be saved without the 
sacraments of the Church of Christ, where they may be had, 
wherefore were they ordained by Christ himself for perpetual 
observance, and whence their acknowledged character as 
means of grace to the souls of men? And if they are equally sa- 
craments and means of grace, with and without the authoritv 
of Christ to administer them, wherefore the institution of a 
visible Church, to be entered into and continued in, no 
otherwise than by participation of the sacraments, rightly 
administered by men duly commissioned to act as stewards 
of the mysteries of God? These are questions which bring 
this subject home to the reason and to the conscience of every 
sincere and informed Christian, and are calculated to fortify 
the less informed against the plausible, but unfounded, reason- 
ings, by which so many have been led away from the truth. 

Nor are there wanting other grounds, on which to show 
the fallacy of all such innovations upon primitive truth and 
order. On the principle here argued against as unscriptural 
and dangerous to the souls of men, the unity of the Church; 
the fellowship of believers in one body, by the operation of 
one spirit; and the assurance of faith — all of them fundament- 
al doctrines of Christ's religion — are no longer blessed and 
comfortable realities in religious condition, grounded on the 
divine character of the Church, the Ministry, and the Sacra- 
ments, as the channels of that grace through which the heart 
has been renewed to God, and the life recovered from sin to 
Lolmess; but mere imagination and assumptions of such 
benefits, grounded on ministrations incapable of being verified 
as divine and true, and consequently not to be relied on, in 
the awful concern of the loss or salvation of the soul. 

On this liberal principle, instead of "one body and one 
spirit, one Lord, one faith, one baptism" — which St. Paul 
asserts as the characteristic of Christ's religion, there must 
be as many of each of these, as there are existing divisions 
on the faith and order of the gospel. 



AN EPISCOPAL CHARGE. 229 

On this modern system of general comprehension, it is not 
perceived possible to give any good reason why every man 
may not be his own priest, and minister to himself in spiritual 
things. For if one division from the body of Christ is justi- 
fiable, why not one hundred, or one hundred million? If one 
man has a right to take the ministerial office unto himself, 
upon some impulse or persuasion of his own mind, why not 
another — why not every other, until the Church of Christ is 
scattered into the dust of individuality? And if men, rational 
beings, who have an eternity of misery or bliss before them, 
on the specified conditions of the gospel, were but as watch- 
ful as to the security of their title to spiritual privileges, as 
they are to that by which their temporal interests are held; 
no place would have been found for the entertainment of 
this dangerous error, nor would the sophistry wherewith it is 
attempted to be defended in the present day avail to continue 
the delusion, could Christians be roused to "compare spirit- 
ual things with spiritual" — to consider well the foundation on 
which they are building for eternity; and by bringing their 
entire religious condition to the standard of revealed truth, 
thence be taught the important lesson, that as the faith and 
order of the gospel are equally from God, loth must combine 
to give assurance to that hope which the Lord Jesus Christ 
has purchased, by the sacrifice of the cross, for a world of 
sinners. 

A third obligation, growing out of the pastoral relation, is, 
that the members of the Church attend regularly on his minis- 
trations; that they make him acquainted with their spiritual 
condition, and consult freely with him thereupon; that they hear 
with reverence, and judge with candor, his expositions of 
Christian doctrine, and his admonitions and exhortations to 
holiness of life; and that they practice diligently the duties 
and obligations of Christian profession. 

This is so plain an obligation, or rather class of obligations, 
and so indispensable to any reason or use in the ministerial 
office, that it may suffice merely to state it, with this single 
remark: — thus to improve the advantages of the external 
ordinances of Christianity, is not only a religious obligation, 
but it is the only ground on which any reasonable expecta- 



230 AN EPISCOPAL CHARGE. 

tion can "be entertained of edification and establishment in 
the faith. St. Paul speaks of a class of Christians, as abound- 
ing in the latter day, who "will not endure sound doctrine, 
but after their own lusts they shall heap to themselves teachers, 
having itching ears:" and he further informs us, what the 
certain consequence would be, "and they shall turn away 
their ears from the truth," says the Apostle, "and shall be 
turned unto fables." Now as observation confirms the 
truth of this prediction, so should it incline us to take heed 
to the warning; nothing being better established than the fact, 
that those persons who are so very liberal, or so fond of 
variety, as to attend the services of all denominations, do 
rarefy or never themselves make any profession of religion, 
or manifest any other sense of its importance, than by thus 
running about to hear preaching, as it is called; and conse- 
quently they are "ever learning, and never able to come to 
the knowledge of the truth," as the same inspired apostle 
testifies. 

A fourth obligation of the pastoral relation, is the decent 
and comfortable support of the Minister, in a suitable and 
certain provision for the temporal wants of himself and his 
family. 

This also is so plain an obligation, and enforced by such 
express warrant of God's word, that the simple mention of it 
might be sufficient, were it not that a growing indifference as 
to this duty begins to manifest itself, and suggests the fear 
that our clergy may be driven away by absolute inability to 
provide for their necessary wants, from their salaries. 

That this is in some degree to be attributed to the present 
pecuniary pressure upon all classes of the community, I have 
lo doubt; nor would I contend for any exemption of the 
clergy from the operation of those vicissitudes to which all 
human affairs are liable. In times of public distress, they 
ought to submit to the privations which are forced upon all; 
and I can answer for my reverend brothers of this diocese, 
that they will do it cheerfully. But where the remuneration 
promised is far below a reasonable compensation for their 
services, and affords at the best but a subsistence, it ought 
not to be curtailed but on the most evident necessity; and 



AN EPISCOPAL CHARGE. 231 

Christian parents need not surely to be told, that a clergy- 
man feels the same anxieties for his growing family that 
others do — or that as his family increases and grows up, his 
expenses unavoidably also increase. Above all, it ought 
sacredly to be borne in mind, that what is contributed to the 
support of religion ought not to be the first, and never the 
sole retrenchment of expenditure among Christians. 

This is a delicate subject, my brethren of the laity, both 
to you and to me, and therefore I forbear to extend it. But 
if it is taken into serious consideration, upon Christian prin- 
ciples, what I have said will suffice to produce a change in 
this respect, creditable at once to yourselves as Christians, 
and encouraging to your ministers — not because of the gain, 
but because it will manifest a more earnest and lively sense 
of the importance of religion, and of your attachment to the 
Church, which otherwise may, and will, be justly questioned. 
Nothing, my brethren, marks a dead and decaying state of 
religious profession more surely, than backwardness and in- 
difference to provide for the regular services of the sanctuary. 

Permit me, however, to observe — what I think is loudly 
called for by the present pressure upon our ecclesiastical and 
civil condition, — that you owe it to the community, both as 
Christians and as citizens, to set the example of retrench- 
ment, in all those useless extravagances of annual expendi- 
ture, which the fashion of the world hath entailed upon soci- 
ety, which is the real cause of the present distress, and which 
the retributive providence of Almighty God is making the 
instrument of a sore chastisement. Excess of apparel, fash- 
ionable decoration, and profuse living, add nothing to our 
real comfort or respectability, my Christian brethren; while 
they take much from our means of doing good, are seriously 
hostile to the inculcation of religious principle in the rising 
generation, and grievously impair the confidence entertained 
of the truth and sincerity of our Christian profession. 

Let it therefore be put away from among us, as men and 
women professing godliness; and by so doing we shall be 
gainers every way; we shall speedily relieve our temporal 
necessities, while at the same time we promote the advance- 
ment of the Church, by giving the most convincing testimo- 
ny to the purity and sincerity of our faith, and to 1 the power 



232 AN EPISCOPAL CHABGE. 

and tendency of our distinctive principles to enforce that 
holiness without which no man, be his profession what it 
may, shall ever see the Lokd. 

A fifth obligation which I will mention, not directly the 
result of the pastoral relation, but growing out of your con- 
nexion with the Church, is a faithful observance of the di- 
rections and canons of your convention. This is a duty as 
binding upon the conscience of the churchman, as obedience 
to the laws of the land is upon the conscience of the citizen. 
For both are enacted by representatives, chosen to consult 
and provide for the common good; the only difference is, 
that what in the one case is enforced by the civil power of 
the State, in the other is entrusted to the moral principle of 
the man. This, if rightly considered, ought to ensure the 
more exact obedience of the two; and if applied to the pecu- 
niary affairs of the diocese, will produce hereafter a stricter 
attention in paying up the assessments laid upon the differ- 
ent congregations, whether for general or special purposes. 

There is yet, however, another obligation, the combined 
result of the pastoral relation and of your profession as epis- 
copalians, of such commanding influence, not only upon the 
advancement, but upon the very being of the Church in this 
diocese, that my duty cads upon me imperiously to present 
it to your most serious consideration' — and that is, the educa- 
tion of your families in the faith of their fathers, in the prin- 
ciples of the Church, of which by their baptism they are 
members. 

That great laxity is exhibited by episcopalians, on this most 
obvious duty, is unhappily beyond dispute. And while I 
admit that it is in some degree the result of what may be 
termed necessity, from the circumstances in which our semi- 
naries of learning are almost exclusively found, I must, nev- 
ertheless, record my fear that it proceeds in a greater degree 
from indifference on the subject of distinctive principles in 



religion. 



Is it, then, consistent with our public profession, my breth- 
ren — with any vital impression of the divine truth of our re- 
ligious doctrines; is it consistent with integrity of principle 



AN EPISCOPAL CHARGE. 233 

as parents; to commit the tuition of the rising hope of the 
Church, where the most that can be hoped for is, that if no 
pains shall be taken to impress their religious principles 
deeper upon their hearts, no inroad shall be made upon them? 

Who are to succeed us, my Christian brethren, when the 
few and fast waning years of our earthly pilgrimage shall be 
closed? Who are to occupy our places in the sanctuary, and 
transmit to posterity, in the integrity of primitive adoption, 
the "faith once delivered to the saints," as set forth in that 
"form of sound words" in which our fathers worshipped God, 
and enjoyed the comfort of his grace and heavenly benedic- 
tion? If our children are not to be trained up with this view, 
and taught to love the Church the more, because it is the 
Church of their fathers; if the principles of primitive truth 
and order, recovered from Romish corruption, asserted against 
sectarian innovation, and recorded as "the lively oracles of 
God," in the blood of the martyrs and confessors of the Brit- 
ish Church, our spiritual mother, are now to be abandoned 
to the fostering care of their professed opponents, vain are 
your labors and self-denials, my brethren of the clergy — vain 
are vour exertions and sacrifices, my brethren of the laity. 
We shall soon be gone; — soon shall the place that now knows 
us, know us no more. And then, strangers shall enter upon 
this fair inheritance, and pull down the landmarks of its most 
holy faith, and prohibit the ordinances of its rational spirit- 
stirring worship, and lay waste the goodly proportions of its 
apostolic order, and scatter the assurance of its heaven-de- 
rived institutions to the wild intemperance of misguided zeal 
and fanatical delusion. 

Pardon me, my brethren, if I seem to you to anticipate an 
ideal danger. I am indeed no prophet, to look into futurity,. 
and draw from thence its hidden events. But as your watch- 
man in chief, and charged with all the interests of the Church, 
I have to keep my eye upon remote as well as upon imme- 
diate consequences, and to give the warning from the quar- 
ter whence danger threatens. 

Our danger, at the present time, seems to me to arise from 
a decline in the spirit and power of religion — from loose and 
erroneous views of the prescribed and covenanted character 
of revealed religion — from consequent indifference to our dis- 



234 AN EPISCOPAL CHAKGE. 

tinctive principles — and from an over conformity with the 
spirit of the world, which, if not arrested, must soon, and 
certainly, produce that moral death which precedes the re- 
moval of our light from the candlestick. Against this dan- 
ger, what is to be our resort, my brethren? Anxiously have 
I cast about for the most effectual remedy, and my judgment 
can find that no where, under God, but in a return to first 
principles. These, through his blessing, may yet revive us 
to "the power of godliness," and sustain us against the oppo- 
sition of our enemies — yea, may turn those enemies into 
friends and favorers of our righteous cause, through the pow- 
er of truth plainly announced, and faithfully exhibited in 
practice. 

Pardon me, also, if I seem to any to have spoken more 
forcibly than the occasion called for. Alas, my brethren, 
that the desire to conciliate, where experience demonstrates 
that concession only increases demand, should have so pre- 
vailed as to enervate and neutralize the truth, by the quali- 
fied and doubting terms in which it is expressed! But a more 
powerful motive than the fear or the praise of men, constrains 
me. This may be my last address to a convention of this di- 
ocese — of which frequently recurring disease, and increasing 
difficulty to relieve the symptoms, give serious notice. I 
therefore have to speak as a dying man to those for whom 
he has to give account — recalling them, as Christians and 
churchmen, to those pure principles of primitive truth and 
order, which alone give to the religion of the gospel its prac- 
tical importance as the prescribed institution of the wisdom 
of God for the salvation of sinners — which alone give to the 
visible Church, ministry, and sacraments, any definite pur- 
pose, in the economy of grace — which alone give to the faith 
of the gospel its covenanted character, and to the hope of 
eternal life through the merits of the divine Saviour the sup- 
port of divine assurance. On these principles, derived from 
the Bible, and from the Bible alone — searched for among the 
various accessible denominations of Christian profession, but 
found, in their integrity, only in the Church — I shall go, God 
being my helper, to my account. On these principles, pro- 
fessed and acted on, or compromised and surrendered, will 



AN EPISCOPAL CHARGE. 235 

the Church, the Protestant Episcopal Church, flourish or de- 
cline, continue or melt away into a sect: and I commit them 
to this convention for the diocese, as the highest proof I can 
give of mj deep and sincere concern for your spiritual and 
temporal welfare, with my earnest prayers to the great Head 
of the Church, that through his heavenly grace they may be 
considered, approved, and applied, only as they are in agree- 
ment with His revealed will. 



SERMONS, 



ON VARIOUS SUBJECTS 







. 




1 


• 


£*, \f " 






■ 


SERMONS, 




• 








' 


SEEMON I. 




• 








»* *#. 




BAPTISM. 


















. 




John hi. 5. 








■ 



• 






"Jesus answered, verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born of 
water, and of the spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." 

The divisions and dissensions among Christians are at once 
the reproach of the gospel and the proof of its divine origin 7 
in the fulfilment of the prophecy of its author and founder. 
"Think not that I am come to send peace upon the earth; I 
came not to send peace, but a sword." The foresight and 
declaration of this perversion of the gospel of peace tends in 
no degree however, my brethren and hearers, to lessen the 
guilt and responsibility of those who separate themselves 
from the visible communion of that one spouse and body of 
Christ, here called the kingdom of God, and by which is 
meant that Church of Christ, which he purchased with his 
own blood — which he hath built on the foundation of the 
apostles and prophets, himself being the chief corner stone 
— with which he hath left the sacraments of his grace, and 
in which only are the promises of God, yea and amen to us, 
in Christ Jesus. "Woe unto the world because of 'offences. 
It must needs be that offences come, but woe unto that man 
by whom the offence cometh. Many shall come in my name, 
and shall say, I am Christ; but believe them not, for there 
shall arise false Christs and false prophets, and shall deceive 
many, but go ye not after them — behold I have told you be- 
fore." If these passages of Scripture, then, mean any thing, 
and are intended for our warning and instruction, it must be 
to teach us that it is not a matter of that indifference we are 
so prone to think it, in what way, or by what means we 



24:0 BAPTISM. 

attach ourselves to the gospel in the outward communion of 
Christian privileges — that among such direct opposition in 
doctrine and practice as now obtains in the Christian world, 
all cannot be right — that as there may be false Cheists and 
false prophets, there may also be false hopes and unfounded 
expectations — and that, as the consequences are eternal, 
every care and diligence should be adopted that we build on 
a foundation which cannot be shaken, and use as much cau- 
tion not to be imposed upon in our spiritual concerns as we 
do to avoid it in temporal affairs. This, it appears to me, is 
so very reasonable a duty, that all must assent to the pro- 
priety of being guided by it; and as all are furnished in the 
word of God, and in the purpose of visible ordinances in re- 
ligion, when rightly considered, to make this necessary in- 
quiry, I would hope that the principle will be remembered 
and acted upon by all who are seriously concerned for the 
salvation of their souls. 

Among the existing divisions in the religious opinion and 
practice which prevail in the present day, there is none more 
pointed or more injurious in its effects than that on the doc- 
trine of baptism, as to the subject, the mode, and the effects. 
As by reason of this difference many are unsettled in their 
minds, and not a few disposed to neglect it altogether — as 
the solemnity and importance of the ordinance is lessened in 
general estimation, and the obligations growing out of it im- 
paired and neglected in those who use it — and as I am in the 
practice of admitting to the sacrament of baptism the infant 
or other children of those who apply to me for that purpose, 
and there is a denomination of Christians who consider this 
as unscriptural and a corruption of Christianity — for these 
reasons, I have considered it my duty on this occasion, to 
make known the foundation on which, with a good con- 
science, I thus act. And that what I may say on the subject 
may be to your edification, I shall consider, 

First, the ordinance itself. 

Secondly, the subject, or description of persons entitled to 
its administration. 

Thirdly, the mode, or manner of administering it. 

And then, 

Conclude with an application of the subject. 



BAPTISM. 24:1 

"Jesus answered, verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a 
man be born of water and of the spirit, he cannot enter into 
the kingdom of God." 

I. First, the ordinance itself. 

There can be no difficulty, I should suppose, as to the 
meaning of the expression in the text — "Being born of 
water," — that it recognizes and establishes in the most point- 
ed terms the institution of water baptism in the Church of 
Christ. Neither can there be a doubt in any serious mind, 
I think, of the absolute necessity which all who would be- 
come Christians are under, of being thus baptized. A more 
solemn and express declaration is not to be found in the 
Scriptures, to any point of faith and practice. But if any 
doubt could reasonably be entertained, it must be done away 
when it is considered that the concluding injunction of the 
Author of our religion to his apostles, was "to teach all na- 
tions — baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the 
Son, and of the Holt Ghost." And when to this solemn 
command was added a declaration no less express, of the 
awful consequences depending on the observance or rejection 
of this institution — "He that believeth and is baptized, shall 
be saved; he that believeth not, shall be damned" — it must 
be a hardier mind than I possess, that can lightly esteem 
this sacred ordinance and nitiating sacrament in the Church 
of Christ. 

The obligation of the ordinance, therefore, in the outward 
application of water in some way, to all who would be, or 
even be called, Christians, being out of all reasonable dispute, 
I will say a few words on its nature and use. 

When the terms and conditions of the covenant of mercy 
in the Son of God were made known to our first parents after 
their fall, the Scriptures do not inform us that any particular 
token or outward seal was given to them; and it is not for us 
to conjecture where the Scripture is silent. When the same 
covenant, however, was renewed with Abraham, and it 
pleased God to appoint and define the channel or course in 
which the promised seed of the woman should come, a special 
outward sign, token, and seal of the covenant was appointed 
by the Almighty, to designate and keep separate this channel, 
and to confirm to the chosen people the assurance of God's 
[Vol. 1,— *16.] 



24:2 BAPTISM. 

favor in their obedience to the terms thereof. "This is my 
covenant which ye shall keep between nie and you, and thy 
seed after thee: every man child anions; von shall be circnm- 
cised, and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and 
von: and he that is eiu'ht days old shall be circumcised anions; 
von, every man child in vonr generation, and the micircmn- 
eased man child shall be cut off from his people — he hath 
broken my covenant." 

Hence we learn, my hearers, that circumcision, as the out- 
ward sign of the covenant, was strictly in the nature of a 
signature to a contract, that it conferred special privileges 
Avhich could no otherwise be obtained, and its use was to de- 
termine by a visible mark, who were, and who were not, 
parties to the covenant. 

Li like manner under the gospel dispensation, when it 
pleased <Gob to put an end to the shadows of the law, by the 
offering up '-the body of I'ukist once for all, and to call all 
nations, as well the Gentiles as the Jews, to the hope of 
eternal life, by the obedience of faith, the same method was 
pursued by appointing a seal to the covenant of grace also, 
which seal is baptism, and i> of the same nature and use as 
the previous seal pt circumcision, and as certainly determines 
our interest in the covenant of redemption, as the former de- 
termined the interest of the seed of Abraham in the covenant 
of promise. As it was the saiiie mercy founded on the original 
c lyenani, "that the seed of the woman should bruise the head 

• f the serpent," SO tho>e to whom it was proposed under 
either of its subsequent forms, coidd only become parties t<> 
ir. and be made partakers of its benefits, by personally sub- 
scribing to the terms, and conforming to the conditions, on 
which it was tendered to them. 

As the descendants of Abraham were not parties to the first 

• •••\enant by their natural birth, but by the application of the 
r-cal or token annexed to it; in like manner the children of 
Christian parents cannot be parties to the second or new 
covenant otherwise than by the application of the appointed 
seal in the sacrament of baptism. And the reason and con- 
nexion of the appointment, with the express declarations of 
the word of Goo. jnqsj; undeniably teaches — that there is no 
revealed method of entering into covenant with Goo, of be- 



BAPTISM. 243 

coming entitled to the benefits of the death of Cueist, in the 
forgiveness of sin, the renewal of the Holy Ghost, and the 
reward of eternal life, but by the water of baptism. 

I therefore do not wonder that baptism should have oc- 
cupied so much the attention of Christians, even in the cir- 
cumstantials belonging to it, as a rite or ceremony. All I re- 
gret is, that attention has not been rightly directed, and that 
in disputing about circumstantials, the end and design of it, 
which is newness of life, has too far been lost sight of. 

That the arguments drawn from the analogy between Chris- 
tian baptism and Jewish circumcision, have been objected to 
and considered irrelevant by those who deny to infants the 
privileges of baptism, is A T ery certain, as it also is, that this 
objection has been pushed so far by ignorant and heated 
minds as to separate the New from the Old Testament al- 
together. But this proves only to what lengths men will go 
in favor of a particular notion, and that they will even risk 
the certainty and obligation of the Bible, rather than yield a 
distinguishing though untenable point. For, beyond dispute, 
if you destroy the connexion between the Old and New Tes- 
taments, you deprive us of the whole Bible. Uncertainty, or 
disagreement in the revelation of God's will deprives us of it 
entirely. Yet nothing is more plain and certain, than that 
our Lokd himself and his inspired apostles viewed this point 
very differently, and continually refer to the Old Testament, 
as the ground and authority of those transactions which after- 
wards formed the New. And St. Paul himself argues this 
very point on the analogy of the two ordinances, styling 
Christian's the circumcision made without hands. And if we 
would only bear in mind, my friends, that in the days of our 
Lord and his apostles there was no such book as that which 
we call the New Testament, it might serve to convince us, how 
dangerous it is to separate the Scriptures from the unity of their 
purpose, and how certainly unsound and unsafe that form of 
doctrine must be which requires so desperate a support. 

From the words of my text also, we learn the connexion of 
spiritual regeneration with the baptism of water; "except a 
man be born of water and of the Spmrr." This has been a 
fruitful theme of opposition and even of ridicule on the sub- 
ject of baptism, not only from those who are opposed to in 



24:4: BAPTISM. 

fant baptism, but even from some who practice it. Yet no- 
thing is more clear from the express words of Scripture, than 
the connexion of regeneration with the sacrament of baptism. 
The words of my text connect thern inseparably. The apostle 
St. Paul expressly styles baptism the washing of regenera- 
tion, and it is every where spoken of and set forth in Scrip- 
ture as a new state, a new life, commenced on new principles, 
and actuated by new motives. Nothing is more clear from 
the actual condition of man, as a fallen creature, spiritually 
dead, than that at some time, and by some means, he must 
be rendered capable of spiritual growth and advancement, 
otherwise the gosp'el is preached to stocks and stones. Now 
this we are certified by our baptism is then done for us; such 
a measure of divine grace being then imparted, as renders us 
once nlore capable of trial and improvement, if duly culti- 
vated. To this amount the Scriptures speak, "Repent and be 
baptixi <I every one of you for the remission of sins, and ye 
shall receive the Holy Ghost." Nor is there a single instance 
in the acts of the apostles, the case of Cornelius excepted, 
which was for a special purpose, where spiritual communica- 
tion of any kind was obtained, except at and after baptism. 

In the primitive Church, immediately after the days of the 
apostles, the word baptism was hardly ever used, but instead 
thereof some word which expressed its spiritual accompani- 
ments — such as regeneration, re-creation, renovation, resur- 
rection, renewal, with many others, which all expressed a 
communication of spiritual benefit annexed to the right ad- 
ministration of this ordinance. Nor is there a single denom- 
ination of Christians who have set forth the articles of their 
common belief, as the principle of their particular union, who 
do not recognise this doctrine in connection with water bap- 
tism. If there are any such I have not met with them. That 
the Protestant Episcopal Church recognises it in the fullest 
manner, you have witnessed in the service of this day; and 
though attempts have been made to explain away the true 
meaning of the words as used in the baptismal office, they 
are unauthorized and indefensible from any just view of the 
subject. 

P>ut however certain it is, that this view of the connexion 
of spiritual regeneration, with the sacrament of baptism, is 



BAPTISM. 245 

that set forth in the articles and declarations of their faith by 
the great majority of reformed Christian denominations, it 
has within no very distant period come to be questioned, so 
that the faith of many is unsettled, and the ordinance itself 
lowered in estimation, and lessened in the use. Considering 
this, therefore, to be a most dangerous corruption of Chris- 
tianity, inasmuch as it strikes at the only revealed and ap- 
pointed means of entering into covenant with God, and be- 
coming partakers of his grace; it is my duty to show yon, 
both the true gound on which the doctrine rests, and also the 
fallacy of that on which the opposite notion is supported. 
]STow this fallacy is two fold — ■ 

First, .an alteration in the meaning attached to the word 
regeneration. 

Originally, as I have showed you, it was always used to 
express the spiritual benefit conferred by baptism in connec- 
tion with the change of outward condition thereby accom- 
plished; and as the spiritual benefit was infinitely the most 
valuable, that was chiefly in view in the use and application 
of the word. 

By degrees, however, the word has become to be generally 
used as synonymous w x ith conversion, or the turning of a sin- 
ner to God by repentance and faith. And this change it is, 
which creates the chief difficulty in the question. Accus- 
tomed to use the word in a particular sense, it sounds strange 
when used in a different one, as I doubt not was felt by many 
of you to-day during the baptismal service. To give thanks 
to God for the conversion of an infant, which common sense 
told you could not possibly be the case, must have sounded 
strange in your ears, and contributed to lessen your respect 
for the ordinance itself. But take the word regeneration in 
its scriptural, primitive, and only just meaning, as the com- 
munication of that principle of a new and spiritual life which 
every child of Adam must receive from God, to render him 
capable of religious attainment, and consequently of salva- 
tion; all is consistent and harmonious, and is calculated to 
produce a deep and lasting impression upon the mind, of the 
goodness of God, of the reasonableness of religion, and of the 
worth and efficacy of this sacrament. 

Secondly — Those views of the doctrine of grace, which are 
commonly called Calvinistic. 



246 BAPTISM. 

As it is the opinion and belief of those who thus think, that 
the grace of God, when given, cannot fail, bnt must operate 
in producing holiness of life; and as much the greater num- 
ber of baptized persons, who live to years of discretion, not 
only fall into sin, but continue therein through life, therefore 
they cannot admit, that the grace of God is bestowed on 
every baptized person. 

And had they established this doctrine, had they proved 
their point, that the grace of God is of this nature, and ne- 
cessitating in its operation, the conclusion would be a jnst 
one. But as they have riot done this, and never can do it 
but at the expense of all religion, the scriptural connexion of 
regeneration -with baptism stands firm for the continuation 
of that reasonable service which the gospel requires, for the 
comfort and edification of parents, in the religious education 
of their children, and for the encouragement of all baptized 
persons, to work out their salvation with care and diligence, 
inasmuch as they are certified by this sacrament, lawfully 
administered, that it is God that worketh in them both to 
will and to do. 

That regeneration and conversion are not the same thing, 
is evident from this: that regeneration, or imparting spiritual 
life, to a creature spiritually dead, must be previous to the 
Conversion ojjFsucli a person from a state of actual sin; it be- 
ing clear and beyond dispute, that an unregenerate person 
never coiilcl lie converted. 

That the grace of Gp!b does not act upon us in a manner 
necessitating and compulsory, is shown from our condition 
as accountable beings, hereafter to be judged, and punished 
or rewarded according to the improvement or abuse of the 
grace given to every one of us in Oukist Jesus, whereof bap- 
tism is the only seal and certiticate. 

Having thus showed von the Obligation of the ordinance, 
together with its nature and use, as an appointment of Jrcsus 
Cukist in his Church; and noticed some of the corruptions 
and perversions of the doctrines which prevail in the present 
day; J come now to the inquiry, who are the proper subjects 
of this ordinance- — that is, who are entitled to it? 

Secondly tlie'n- — Every denomination of Christians is agreed, 
that all who can with understanding profess their faith in 



BAr-risM. 247 

Christ, are fit subjects of this ordinance. In other words, 
that believers' baptism is lawful and scriptural. On this 
subject there is no dispute. 

Every denomination of Christians, with the exception of 
one, is further agreed, that the infants, and other children of 
believing parents, are entitled to this only seal of the cove- 
nant of grace, and are in the practice of receiving them to 
Church membership by baptism. And being of the number 
of those who thus act, I shall now lay before you the grounds 
on which I think myself warranted in so doing, by the word 
of God. 

First — As the covenant of mercy established in the blood 
of Christ, is one and the same, nnder every dispensation of 
religion, and embraces every description of persons, (eveiy 
creature under heaven, is the strong expression of St. Paul) 
it must embrace infants as well as adults. But as there are 
no revealed means of becoming parties to the Christian cov- 
enant, but by the waters of baptism, I consider infants enti- 
tled to this benefit. "For the premise is unto you and to 
your children.''' 

Secondly — As it pleased God, in constituting the Old Tes- 
tament Church, to command the membership of infants, and 
to direct them to be taken into covenant with him, by receiv- 
ing the seal thereof at eight days old; I consider, that an al- 
teration in the seal merely, without any alteration in the con- 
ditions of the covenant, does not make such a change as to 
exclude those who were before admissible. I therefore re- 
ceive infants to membership in the Church of Christ, by the 
now appointed seal of baptism. 

Thirdly — as the covenant is an everlasting covenant, ordered 
in all tilings and sure, no change, in anv thing that relates to 
its essence, can be made, from the very nature of the parties 
to it, Almighty God, and mortal man. As therefore, the 
benefits of this covenant were once extended to infants bv 
divine appointment, and no notice of any repeal of this privi- 
lege is either known or pleaded, as a minister of Christ I 
dare not take upwn me to narrow or curtail the grace of God, 
by refusing its seal now, to those who were once clearly en- 
titled to it, upon any presumed inconsistency, or specious 
reasonings of an incapacity of which I cannot judge. I there- 
fore baptize them. 



24S BAPTISM. 

Fourthly — As it is only by the influence of the Holy 
Spirit that we are rendered capable of any thing good 
and acceptable in the sight of God — as this help and influ- 
ence is essential to our growth in grace — and as it is only to 
persons rightly baptized that this grace is promised and given, 
according to the authority of God's word, which is the more 
sure word of prophecy — I therefore receive and baptize them, 
that they may receive the gift of the Holy Ghost — that the 
spirit of grace may early occupy their hearts, and work in 
them, and with their parents and friends, in training them 
up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, that they may 
be guided into all necessary truth, and strengthened unto all 
required duty. 

Fifthly — As "that which is born of the flesh is flesh" — as 
by natural birth we have no part in the covenant of grace, 
1 ait are under a sentence of condemnation, which can be re- 
moved only by the merits of Christ's death, applied in the 
appointed means, by being baptized into his death, — I there- 
fore receive them into the ark of Christ's Church, that they 
may be made partakers of the promises, and nourished up 
unto eternal life: for "it is not the will of your Father which 
is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish." 

On these scriptural and reasonable grounds, brethren and 
friends, do I, as a minister of Christ, with a good conscience 
administer the sacrament of baptism to the subject, and after 
the manner, ye have tins day witnessed; and it is your part 
carefully to consider and apply them. 

But it may reasonably enough be expected that the objec- 
tions of those who are opposed to this practice should not 
pass without notice, more especially as it might be said, that 
they could not be answered, and therefore were not met: for 
I know by long experience, that what I have this day said 
in discharge of my duty, will be considered as an attack upon 
a favorite notion, and withstood in every way that can be 
devised. 

As there are two main objections to the practice of infant 
baptism, and chiefly made use of by those who are opposed 
to the practice, I shall confine myself to them; and this the 
rather because they contain all of difficulty on the question. 

The first objection is, that there is no warrant in Scripture, 



BAPTISM. 249 

no Tims saith the Lord, for administering this ordinance to 
infants. And I admit that there is no snch express command 
as, Tims saith the Lokd, thon shalt baptize thy children: but 
in reply I observe, that it was not necessary to give any such 
command. 

Reflect a moment, my hearers, what description of persons 
it was to whom the gospel was first preached. "Was it not 
to Jews?— to descendants of Abraham, the Israel of God, who 
for nineteen hundred years had been accustomed to the church 
membership of infants, by express command of God, in the 
application of the outward seal of the covenant, with a severe 
penalty denounced against the neglect of it? In what sense 
then would those Jews to whom Peter preached the gospel 
on the day of Pentecost receive his exhortation to repent and 
be baptized, that they might receive the Holy Ghost, with 
his declaration that the promise of this benefit was to them 
and to their children? Would they understand it as exclud- 
ing their infants from the benefits of the Christian covenant 
and membership in the church of Christ, or as continuing to 
them the privilege they were already in possession of and ac- 
customed to? I think there cannot be a reasonable doubt in 
any mind as to what their understanding of it would be. For 
it was a Jew preaching to Jews, and as such, would be under- 
stood according to the general and long accustomed impres- 
sion among them, on this point; and the reason is equally 
good for a like understanding and practice on our part. 

But further. Had it been in the counsel of the unchange- 
able God to alter the terms of his covenant, on the revelation 
of the gospel, so as to exclude infants, then would an express 
prohibition of the former practice have been made. No such 
prohibition, however, being to be found, and no express com- 
mand being necessary to those who were already accustomed 
to the membership of infants, I conclude that the objection 
is not of that serious nature which those who rely upon it 
would have it thought, nor sufficient to warrant the danger- 
ous and injurious innovation of denying the sacrament of 
regeneration to infants. 

But further yet. Was a Tims saith the Lokd indispensable 
to the circumstantials of a positive institution? There are 
many things in our common Christianity to which we attach 



250 BAPTISM. 

a very high degree of reverence and sanctity, and as to which 
we are equally deficient of this particular kind of authority. 
Where, for instance, shall we find a Thus saith the Lord — a 
positive command — to observe the first day of the week, in- 
stead of the seventh, as the day of rest and holiness to the 
Lord? Where is the command obliging us to attend public 
worship on this or any other day? Where is there a like au- 
thority for admitting females to the Lord's Supper? None 
of these are thus provided for in the New Testament. Are 
they therefore corruptions of Christianity, and to be abandon- 
ed and put down in the use and observance? God forbid! 
and yet if the objection is good in the case of infant baptism, 
it is good as to these also, and the opponents of the one ought 
to be equally so of the others, to be consistent with their 
principles. How then stands the authority of all these re- 
ligious observances!' To this I answer: on the same ground 
on which the Scriptures themselves stand, as the word of 
God — that is, on the testimony > authority, and practice, of 
the primitive Chnrch under the unerring guidance of the in- 
spired apostles of our Lokd Jesus Christ, than which, I 
think, we need no bettor security for the quiet and assurance 
of our consciences in any religions observance. 

The next objection is, That faith and repentance being 
necessary preparations for baptism, therefore, as infants are 
incapable of either, they ought not to be baptized. To this I 
reply; that faith and repentance are absolutely necessary, and 
strictly required, of all who are capable of them; and I would 
no more baptize an adult, a person come to years of dis- 
cretion, without a profession of faith, than my opponents 
would. But where do avc learn, either from Scripture or 
reason, that these are required of those who from the nature 
of things have nothing to repent of, and cannot believe? 
How stands the case, as respects these qualifications for the 
seal of the first covenant? Of Abraham and all who were 
capable of it, faith was required; but of those who were in- 
capable it was not required, nevertheless we know assuredly 
that they were entitled to the seal and all its benefits. Shall 
we then, my hearers, venture to apply the Scripture differ- 
ently in a similar case, and, without an express warrant, say 
that the words of my text require an impossibility when they 






BAPTISM. 251 



declare, "that except a man be "born of water and of the 
spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of G-od." 

In defence of this objection, the strong hold of the oppo- 
nents of infant baptism, is a text from St. Mark's gospel — 
"He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." Be- 
lieving, they say, is pnt before baptism, and therefore none 
but believers ought to be baptized. Now, my friends, to 
show yon the weakness and fallacy of all snch arguments, I 
will oppose my text to theirs; in that it is said, and very ex- 
pressly too, "except a man be born of water and of the spirit." 
Here baptism is put before' spiritual influence of any kind, of 
course before faith and repentance, which are fruits of the 
spirit; and therefore, if the views of our opponents are just, 
there is a contradiction in the Scriptures. In this case what 
is to be done? The same mouth spake both passages of Scrip- 
ture, and the same mouth hath told us that the Scripture can- 
not be broken. Shall we reject either of the texts? We dare 
not. Shall we prefer one to the other? They are of the 
same authority. Shall Ave, then, force them to suit some 
particular notion of our own? God forbid! No, my brethren, 
let us learn to treat the word of God with more reverence, 
and comparing spiritual things with spiritual — that is, the 
two Testaments with each other — so expound and understand 
our Bible, that the whole purpose of God in the salvation of 
sinners may present one unbroken chain of wisdom and 
mercv from beo-innino; to end; which can no otherwise be 
done, than by understanding that purpose to be the same,, 
and applied to the same objects in every dispensation of re- 
ligion. And let this difficulty from the two texts, according 
to the objection above noticed, show you the childishness of 
thus treating so weighty a subject, and warn you against all 
partial interpretation of Scripture. It is one, my hearers, 
like its great Author, and cannot safely, or without sin, be- 
broken up into separate authorities for disagreeing doctrine. 

The two main objections to the practice of infant baptism 
being thus shown to have no foundation in either Scripture 
or reason, it is the less necessary to take up your time with 
those of a minor order. There are two more observations,. 
however, closely connected with Scripture authority, and ap- 
plying to the objections under notice, which I Mill lay before 
you. 



252 



BAPTISM. 



The first is, that for fifteen hundred years, that is, from 
the days of the apostles to the reformation of religion in the 
sixteenth century, the practice of infant baptism was unques- 
tioned in the Church of Christ. Now we know that the 
different religious parties watched each other as closely then 
as they do now. We know that every attempt to corrupt 
the gospel was denounced by some of them. If, then, the 
practice of admitting infants to baptism is a corruption, a 
departure from apostolic precept and practice in the religion 
of Jesus Christ, how unaccountable, my hearers, that no 
notice should be taken of it in all that time, and that only in 
the last three hundred years it should have been discovered 
and opposed. 

The second is, that in a period of sixty-five years, that is 
from the ascension of our Lord to the death of the apostle 
St. John, there is no mention made, either in the Acts or in 
the Epistles, of any child or children of the first converts to 
Christianity being baptized when they came to years of dis- 
cretion. Now, they were either baptized in infancy, or at 
adult age, or relapsed into Heathenism. But we read no- 
thing, as I have said, of their being baptized when they came 
to a proper age — and we do read of whole households being 
baptized at once. Therefore, I conclude, "that the root being 
holy, the branches are so likewise" — that the promise being 
to them and to their children, every parental feeling would 
urge Christian parents to procure for their infants, as early 
as possible, the Grace of God, in the baptismal seal of the 
new covenant. 

With these remarks I leave the question of the proper 
subjects of this sacrament to the judgment and the feelings 
of every Christian father and mother present, with the word 
of Gon for their guide, in preference to the vain reasoning 
of men, in favor of their own inventions, and proceed 

III. Thirdly, to consider the mode, or manner of adminis- 
tering baptism. 

The opponents of infant baptism are also opposed to the 
application of water to the subject in that sacrament, in any 
but one mode. They consider immersion, or plunging the 
whole body under the water, as the only Scriptural mode; 
and that the practice of applying the water by pouring or 



BAPTISM. 253 

sprinkling, as used by other denominations, is such a corrup- 
tion as vitiates and renders null and of no effect the rite it- 
self, even when applied to a proper subject. 

Though I do not subscribe to this opinion, yet fortunately 
there is no necessity that I should take up more of your at- 
tention upon a matter of so little real consecruence. The mode 
of any ritual performance is not a point of saving faith, 
though it may and ought to be, under the same reasons, a 
point of dutiful observance. No Christian denomination 
thinks it an essential part of the Lord's supper to eat it at 
night, or to observe a fixed posture of the body; yet certainly 
we have more exact information of the mode of administer- 
ing that sacrament than the other; and had such circumstan- 
ces been of the essence of the ordinance, there would have 
been a clear direction in the Scriptures, which there is not. 

The Church of which I am a minister, however, authorizes 
the administration of baptism by immersion; and I am free 
to administer it in this way to any who scruple to receive it 
by the more usual, and equally efficacious mode, of pouring 
or sprinkling. 

On this contested point, and the more contested, perhaps, 
because so little depends upon it, Scripture authority is not 
decisive of the mode, there being as much ground to infer 
that they went down into the water for the purpose of more 
easily pouring it on the multitudes, as for the purpose of im- 
mersing them. 

In the case of St. Paul's own baptism, there is no evidence 
that he was immersed, or that there was any convenience for 
it in a private house. And in the baptism of the jailer by 
St. Paul in the prison at midnight, together with his whole 
house, all the circumstances are against the conclusion that 
immersion was the mode, and in favor of the sujjposition that 
infants or children formed a part of those baptized by St. 
Paul. Indeed, so very indefinite are the authorities relied 
upon on those points, that it is difficult to conceive how sin- 
cere men can find in them a justification for separating from 
the Church, and adding to the divisions which deform the 
Christian world. 

I will, therefore, conclude what I have to say on the mode 
of baptism, with these two remarks — 



254 BAPTISM. 

First, whatever is said in the gospel respecting John's 
baptism, the baptism of our Lord in the river Jordan, or any- 
other baptizings there mentioned, has nothing to do with 
Christian baptism, which was not instituted until after our 
Saviour's resurrection, nor administered until the day of Pen- 
tecost. So that all reasonings from one to the other are in- 
consequent, and all analogies unfounded. 

Secondly, as it is not the quantity of wax, or the size of 
the seal, that makes an instrument legal and effectual, so it 
is not the quantity of water in baptism, but the authority by 
which it is applied, that gives it its effect. Oceans of water 
without the authority of Christ to administer it, signify no- 
thing, can bring no persons into covenant with God through 
him — while the smallest quantity duly applied is effectual to 
convev over all the blessed fruits of his most gracious under- 
taking for the salvation of sinners. Hence arises a most se- 
rious consideration, my friends, in this inquiry: whether all 
■who venture to administer baptism to any of the subjects, or 
in any of the modes in which it is used, have such authority 
for what they do, as to render valid and worthy to be de- 
pended on; the high privileges contained in the authorized 
application of water, in the name of the Father, and of the 
Son, and of the Ilony Ghost? 

The application of what has been said is, 

I. To those who, by reason of the contentions which have 
grown out of this subject, have become unsettled in their 
minds as to the nature and necessity of the ordinance, and 
have therefore neglected it either as to themselves or their 
families. Upon such let me press the words of my text; they 
speak volumes in a small compass — "Except a man be born 
of water and of the Spirit," both baptized outwardly, and 
renewed inwardly, "he cannot enter the kingdom of God" — 
lie can neither become a member of the Church militant upon 
earth, or of the Church triumphant in heaven. By the ex- 
press appointment of God, baptism with water is the seal of 
that covenant in which the mercies of redemption are made 
over to men. Let no man, therefore, deceive you with vain 
reasonings, lessening the obligation and importance of this 
sacred ordinance. Reflect, my friends, on the awful condi- 
tion of those who are without any title to the covenanted 



BAPTISM. 255 

mercy of the gospel, and "come thou and all thy house into 
the ark." 

Next, to those who, baptized in the name of the Father, 
the Son, and the Holy GnosT, and thereby most solemnly 
pledged to the service of God, have nevertheless broken their 
baptismal engagements, and walking according to the course 
of this world, set at nought the promises and threaten ings of 
God in the gospel. Alas, my brethren, are you aware of 
your danger, of the double guilt you are heaping upon your 
souls, by thus rejecting Jesus Christ and him crucified for 
you? Hear, therefore, the warning this day given you. God 
is yet merciful, and calls you to repentance, and Christ ever 
liveth to make intercession for you. While this your day of 
grace lasts, therefore, be zealous, and repent, that your sins 
may be blotted out, and your spiritual strength be renewed 
to escape from the snare of the devil, and from that eternal 
death which is the only wages of his service. 

Lastly, to those who have this day pledged their children 
to God in the sacrament of baptism. 

Let the solemn engagements this day entered into pervade 
your whole duty to your children and to yourselves. What- 
ever you plan and contrive for their welfare, let the affecting 
remembrance that you have given them to God, and promised 
to train them for his service both here and hereafter, rule 
over your conduct. And let the blessed assurance that in 
all you now undertake for their well being and advancement, 
either as respects the present life or that which is to come, 
you have the promise of Him who cannot fail you, that they 
are his peculiar care; that his blessing will be upon them and 
upon your faithful endeavors to train them up in the nurture 
and admonition of the Lord; that his good providence will 
so direct and order their cause through this troublesome and 
evil world, that they will be an ornament to their family, a 
credit to their friends, useful to their country, and a comfort 
and support to the declining years of their parents. And in 
the great day of eternity he bids you look forward to such a 
re-union with those who are most dear to you in this life, as 
shall never be interrupted or done away. Take courage then 
from the word of Him, all whose promises are yea and amen 
to us in Christ Jesus. They are pledged to you this day in 



256 BAPTISM. 

the covenant of his rich redeeming love, and may the}" 
streno-then vou to a faithful discharge of all your duties. 

And now, my brethren and hearers, let me appeal both to 
your hearts and to your understandings, whether this solemn 
reception of these children to the benefits of the Christian 
salvation has any thing in it that savours of folly, or is liable 
to ridicule — whether it is mere baby sprinkling, as some 
profanely call it, or a most efficacious means of grace both to 
parents and children? Consider what the effect upon society 
would be, were all parents and children really under the in- 
fluence of these solemn engagements, and diligent to fulfil 
their vows to God. Consider further, who can look forward 
to comfort and satisfaction in his family, with the best hope 
— the parent who dedicates, or he who withholds his family 
from God? And then look round and see what the neglect 
of this and of other religious duty has brought the morals of 
the people to, and let the awful absence of the fear of God 
every where visible, warn you to try another course, and en- 
gage you to "ask for the old paths — where is the good way, 
and to walk therein, that you may find rest for your souls." 
And may God bless this endeavor to state plainly his truth, 
and recall you to the right ways of the Lord, for Jesus 
Ciiiusrs sake. Amen. 



SERMON II. 



CONFIRMATION. 



Acts xv. 41. 
«And he went tbrough Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches." 

The person here spoken of, my brethren and hearers, is the 
apostle St. Paul; and the work he is represented as engaged 
in, must be considered as of importance to their religious 
advancement, and in such a sense important, as connected 
with the assurance of their Faith. This I trust will appear 
evident to jou, my hearers, when you recollect that, at the 
time here spoken of, the Gentile Christians had no Scriptures 
of any kind, as a fixed standard to which to refer for the trial 
of their faith. More particularly they had not as yet the 
Scriptures of the New Testament, to which to bring both 
their faith and hope. Everything depended on the evidence 
the ministers of Christ were enabled to give, of the authority 
by which they spake and acted. Without this there could 
have been no claim on their obedience, nor could the guilt 
of unbelief and rejection of the gospel have been charged 
upon them. 

Hence we discern the importance of St. Paul's personal 
ministry to these newly planted Churches, and how much 
depended upon the authority by which he acted, for the 
assurance of their faith. 

To suppose, however, that the promulgation and spread of 
the Scriptures has done away the importance of this evidence 
to us, and that the Bible is a substitute for it, can proceed 
only from ignorance, prejudice, or interested motive; because 
the ordinances of the gospel, from the very nature of the 
things they are connected with, derive their whole certainty, 
and by consequence their efficacy, from the authority by 
which thev are administered. 

Having before us then this day the performance of the like 
duty, it appeared reasonable for the edification and assurance 
[Vol. 1,-*17.] 



25S CONFIRMATION". 

of those most interested, to take this brief notice of a point 
now too much overlooked in the Christian community, that 
they might with the greater confidence, both dedicate them- 
selves to God, and expect those spiritual blessings which 
he has been pleased to annex, in the ordinary administrations 
of his grace, to the use of outward means. 

The words of my text may be thought, by some, remote 
from the particular object now before us. But whether we 
take the expression "confirming the churches," in the extend- 
ed sense of animating and encourao-ine; them bv his exhort- 
ations, by his counsel, by his example and authority, to 
steadfastness and increase in faith and holiness; or use it in 
the more restrained sense of administering those sacred rites 
and holy ordinances of Christ's religion, which are by divine 
appointment, at one and the same time, outward and visible 
signs of God's mercy and grace, and means or channels 
whereby we receive the same; we are equally furnished with 
the warrant of apostolic usage T for the performance of a like 
duty to the same gracious end. The text therefore needs no 
forcing to suit my purpose, more especially as I trust to show, 
beyond all reasonable ground of objection, that the more 
special purpose of our assembling together at this time, formed 
a part of that duty which the apostle performed in this visit 
to the churches of Syria and Cilicia. 

The subject under consideration being the ordinance or 
rite of confirmation, I shall discourse upon it, for your edifi- 
cation, under the following heads: 

First. The origin and authority of this ordinance, as used in 
the Church of Christ from the very beginning of Christianity. 

Secondly. The purpose or design with which it was ad- 
ministered in the primitive Church. 

Thirdly. Its use and propriety, as continued in the Church 
to this day. 

Focrthly. I shall point out the qualifications necessary 
to those who would receive it with advantage. 

"And he went through Syria and Cilicia confirming the 
Churches." 

First, I am to lay before you the origin and authority of 
this ordinance of confirmation, as used in the Church of 
Christ from the very beginning of Christianity. 



CONFIRMATION. 259 

For this, my brethren and hearers, as for all the other 
appointments of God's wisdom and mercy, in the redemption 
and salvation of sinners, we must go to the Scriptures of our 
faith; whatever is not there set forth for our learning, or 
commanded for our obedience, cannot be essential in our 
j>ractice. Nor yet, on the other hand, can it be safe for us 
to reject or lay aside what is there set forth, as an ordinance 
of our religion, which has the sanction of apostolic usage, 
and a reasonable and profitable application. 

Coeval, then, with the administration of the ordinance of 
Z'eligion in the Church of Christ, we find it to have been the 
practice of his apostles to follow the sacrament of baptism, 
sometimes immediately, sometimes more remotely in point 
of time, with the imposition of their hands, together with 
prayer, that the persons who by baptism had become the dis- 
ciples of Christ, might in this, the ordinary and appointed 
mode, receive the gift of the Holt Ghost, whether that was 
in the communication of those extraordinary operations which 
at the first evidenced the divine original of the gospel, and 
of the authority of those to whom it was recommitted; or in 
the more ordinary, more necessary, and more frequent effects 
of his presence as the promised comforter, guide, and santifier 
of Christ's disciples. And the first instance of its adminis- 
tration is mentioned in the eighth chapter of the Acts of the 
apostles, under these circumstances. 

Philip, who. was ordained one of the seven deacons, or in- 
ferior ministers of the Church, driven by the persecution con- 
sequent on the death of Stephen, from Jerusalem, went down 
to Samaria, and preached Christ unto them; and by the 
power of his doctrine, and the evidence of the miracles which 
he wrought in proof of its divine origin, converted them to 
the faith, and baptized them. We learn further, however, 
my hearers, that though they were converted and baptized, 
there was yet something more provided for their furtherance 
in the faith, which Philip, though a minister of Christ, and 
clothed with miraculous power, could not confer upon them. 

Hence we read, that when the apostles, who were at Jeru- 
salem, heard that a Church was gathered at Samaria, they 
sent two of their body, Peter and John, who went down to 
them, and prayed for them, and laid their hands upon them,. 



260 confirmation. 

and then and thereby, as the appointed means, they received 
the Holy Ghost. 

The next instance of the exercise of this apostolic ordinance, 
recorded in the Scriptures, is in the nineteenth chapter of the 
same hook, where St. Paul having baptized some of the dis- 
ciples of John the baptist, afterwards laid his hands upon 
them, by which act they received the Holy Ghost, and spake 
with tongues, and prophesied. 

From these two instances then, we learn, my brethren and 
hearers, that a sacred and significant ordinance or religious 
rite, subsequent to and connected with the sacrament of bap- 
tism, has the same origin and authority with our hoi v religion, 
and is as much a part of it, as the sabbath and the sacra- 
ments. And when we are further informed, as we are by 
this same apostle, that this ordinance or rite, under the name 
of laying on of hands, is among the first principles of the doc- 
trine of Christ, our regard for, and observance of it, must be 
greatly increased; as must also be our admiration that in so 
large a portion of the professing Christian world it should be 
so lightly esteemed, and abandoned in the use; for without 
any dispute, first principles, in all institutions, whether civil 
or religious, are sacred, and can neither be departed from 
without danger, nor abrogated without guilt. 

la the sixth chapter of St. Paul's Epistle to the Hebrews, 
we find that apostle, in enumerating the principles of the 
doctrine of Christ, including laying on of hands, in connexion 
with baptism. And in the third chapiter of his Epistle to 
Titus, he speaks of the washing of regeneration, together with 
the renewing of the Holy Ghost, as parts or principles in 
that salvation, which "God our Saviour hath shed on us 
abundantly, through Jesus Christ our Saviour." From all 
which, and from the practice of every apostolic Church, con- 
tinued unto this day; we feel and believe that it was intended 
so to be continued, and that by abandoning it, we should de- 
prive the Church of an appointed means of grace, and of a 
ground of assurance to all her devout members. Our hope 
of salvation, my brethren and friends, if it be a good hope, 
is so interwoven with conformity to the gospel, and the assu- 
rance of faith so dependent for its reality on the authority 
bv which the outward and sensible signs of invisible things, 



CONFIRMATION. 261 

the sacraments and ordinances of the Church, are adminis- 
tered and received, that we dare not venture to add to, or 
diminish from, the pattern given us in the primitive Church; 
or to cast off a practice, which then was, and now is, so help- 
ful, in confirming to believers the promises of the gospel; 
which rests upon such clear declarations of God's holy word, 
and such safe interpretation of their meaning, as that of apos- 
tolic usage. Remember, I pray you, my brethren, that it is 
one thing to take assurance in matters of faith, it is quite a 
different (shims; to be entitled to it. 

More especially is the continuance of this ordinance in the 
Church, at the present day, of the highest use and impor- 
tance; by reason that in the natural and regular course of 
things, the sacrament of baptism, which at the first was ad- 
ministered chielly, though not solely, to adults, or grown up 
persons, came to be administered to their children. For as 
the promise was to them and to their children, there can be 
no reasonable doubt, that as soon as there were those, in any 
Christian society, who could be the subjects of this grace, its 
benefits were applied to them. And I appeal to every Chris- 
tian mother present, whether she would not just as soon with- 
hold the breast from the infant, as the infant from the grace 
of God given in baptism duly and rightly administered. 

When these infants, therefore, came to years of discretion, 
to understand the nature and extent of the Christian obliga- 
tion, and were desirous in their own persons to make profes- 
sion of their faith in Christ, to take upon themselves their 
baptismal vows, and dedicate themselves to the cause of God 
and religion, they were provided, in this apostolic ordinance, 
with the means of doing so, in a manner calculated both to 
impress and encourage them. 

It is calculated to impress them with the deepest reverence, 
from the solemn nature of the engagements entered into, and 
from the preparation required, from its being transacted in 
public, with the Bishop or chief governor of the Church, by 
whom in person could this office alone be performed. 

It is calculated to encourage them, by the fullest assurance 
of all spiritual help given them for the performance of their 
Christian duties, by the prayers of the whole Church in their 
behalf, and by the laying on of the hands of him, to whom is 



262 



CONFIRM ATIOX. 



committed, according to the appointment of Christ, the dis- 
pensing of his mysteries in the Church. 

Hence it is called Confirmation, because it is a public rat- 
ifying or confirming of the joint obligation entered into at 
baptism, between God and his creature; and because it is, to 
every true believer, the baptism of the Holy Ghost, certified 
by an appropriate sign. 

With these scriptural, reasonable, and profitable claims on 
the observance of all Christian people, it is surely worthy of 
the most serious consideration, why it has been abandoned 
by any denomination, or how it is possible to find a substi- 
tute for it, in any of those inventions of men, who, wise in 
their own conceits, venture to sit in judgment on the appoint- 
ment of heaven, and to alter and amend the gospel, and its 
ordinances, as if it were a constitution of civil government, 
or a regulation of civil society. We are told by way of 
warning, my hearers, by Him who knew to its root the pride 
and presumption of our fallen natures — "that there is a way 
which seenieth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the 
ways of death." Let us ever reverently bear in mind, my 
brethren and friends, that our religion, in all its parts, is the 
appointment of heaven for pur good; that in its every office 
there is a purpose of divine wisdom to be answered, and that 
we never can be safe, (safe in such a sense as alone ought to 
satisfy a rational being, on the unspeakable interests of eter- 
nity,) unless we are built on the joint agreement of God's 
word and God's authority. These two he hath seen good to 
join indissolubly together, for our comfort and assurance. 
That which God hath joined, therefore, let no man venture 
to put asunder. 

Secondly, I come now, in the second place, to point out to 
you the purpose and design with which it was administered 
in the primitive Church. 

This, as has been already showed in part, was to draw 
down upon the person or persons confirmed, the blessing of 
God, in the gift of the Holy Ghost, as the seal of their cove- 
nant state, the witness to their adoption into the family of 
Ciikist, and the root or spring whence all holy desires, all 
good counsels, and all just works do proceed. This was al- 
ways the chief design of this ordinance — whether the pre- 



CONFIRMATION. 263 

sence of the Holy Spirit was manifested by those extraordi- 
nary gifts which were for signs to them that believed not, 
and for the spread and advancement of the gospel; or by 
those ordinary, but more essential operations of his power, 
by which the heart is .sanctified to God, and the life devoted 
to his service. 

But another purpose also was intended to be answered by 
this ordinance of confirmation — which was, to establish be- 
lievers in the vital doctrine of the unity of the Church. A 
doctrine which our Lord laid down with the utmost plain- 
ness and precision, as decisive of the fellowship to which we 
are called by the gospel, and which his apostles pressed upon 
their converts with the utmost earnestness, but which seems 
now to be nearly lost sight of, in a divided Christian world. 
"There is one body," says St. Paul to the Ephesians, "and 
one Spirit, even as ye are called with one hope of your call- 
ing." Therefore the power to impart the gifts of the Spirit, 
whether ordinary or extraordinary, was confined, after the 
ascension of Christ, to his apostles, and to such as they com- 
missioned to govern the Churches in his name. Hence we 
find St. Paul appealing to this, the sign or mark of an apos- 
tle of Christ, manifested in his person, as an argument with 
the Corinthian and Galatian Churches, to recover them from 
the heresy and schism into which they had been seduced. 
(Have Christians of the present day lost the meaning of these 
words — or has any revelation been made by which the crime 
is no longer possible?) "I am jealous over you with a godly 
jealousy," says he to the Corinthian Church, "lest by any 
means your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity 
that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another 
Jesus, or if ye receive another Spirit, or another gospel," 
then may you reasonably dispute my claim. "But such, 
are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves 
into the apostles of Christ. For truly the signs of an apos- 
tle were wrought among you (by me) in all patience, in signs 
and wonders, and mighty deeds." 

In like manner he argues with the Galatians on the same 
subject. "I marvel (says he) that ye are so soon removed 
from Him that called you into the Grace of Christ, unto 
another gospel. O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched 



264 CONFIRMATION. 

you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spir- 
it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? He, 
therefore, that ministereth the Spirit to yon, and worketh 
miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or 
by the hearing of faith?" And thus could every individual 
Christian, as well as every Christian Church, determine sa- 
tisfactorily on the truth and certainty of their interest in 
Christ, by this standing witness to the Divine Authority of 
those by whom the gospel was preached, and the sacraments 
and ordinances of the Church administered to them. And 
well would it be for Christians of the present day to consider 
whether they have any other, or better, means of determin- 
ing such important questions. 

At this stage of the subject, we are prepared to inquire, 
whether this particular ordinance of confirmation, known in 
the apostles' days by the name of laying on of hands, formed 
part of the duty performed by St. Paul in this visit to the 
Churches of Syria and Cilicia. 

The opinion that it did, rests on the following circumstan- 
ces. An interval of seven years, at the least, had passed., 
according to the chronology of the Bible, from the time they 
had first received the gospel until this visit from Paul and 
Barnabas. In that space of time many converts were doubt- 
less added to the Church, who required, and were equally 
entitled to the benefit and assurance of apostolic ministra- 
tions with those who preceded them — to say nothing of those 
younger members of baptized households, who must in this 
time have grown up in the nurture and admonition of the 
Lord, and been prepared to make a public profession of 
Christianity. "When, therefore, we find this ordinance, un- 
der the name of laying on of hands, set forth in the Scriptures 
as one of the first principles of the doctrine of Christ — when 
we find that it was practiced by the apostles, in connexion 
with the sacrament of baptism — that it was used by St. Paul 
himself: when we hear him appealing to the Corinthian and 
Galatian Churches, led away into heresy and schism — by this 
personal proof to them of his authority as a minister of Christ, 
under the name of ministering and receiving the Spirit — 
when, above all, we reflect that to apostolic hands was com- 
mitted the power of communicating the Spirit, whether in 



CONFIRMATION. 



265 



his ordinary or extraordinary operations — yon, my hearers, 
must judge whether the text is forced to the subject, or whe- 
ther it is such a fair and reasonable inference, as it is our 
duty to make from the known character of the apostles and 
the circumstances of the case. 

There was yet a further purpose, however, to which this 
ordinance was applied in the primitive Church, but subse- 
quent to the times of the apostles, which I will mention. 

It was believed to obviate and cure* any defects, either of 
irregularity or want of authority, in the administration of 
baptism. Hence, such persons as had been baptized in in- 
fancy either by laymen or by ministers of heretical Churches, 
when they came afterwards to a better mind on the subject 
of religion, and were desirous to join the true apostolic Church 
of Christ, had the deficiencies of their baptism remedied by 
the laying on of the hands of the Bishop: for it was an early 
decision of the Council of the Church, that as there was but 
one baptism, it ought not to be repeated, even where irregu- 
larity and defect of authority attended it. 

Observations of this description appear strange, and of an 
obsolete character, to many of you, I doubt not, my hearers; 
but they belong to the subject — they are necessary to explain 
and enforce it, as a Christian ordinance, and a Christian duty; 
and in their just application they belong to thousands, who 
are accountable tor gospel privileges, for the light of life in 
the word of Chkist, and for saving ordinances — but who 
quench them all, in the pride and poverty of human author- 
ity; — who search not the Scriptures for thus saith the Lord, 
but blindly follow the thus saith the sect or leader, to whom 
they have attached themselves — and they are mentioned on 
this occasion to awaken your attention to what can never pre- 
judice your eternal interest, to-wit: the ground of your hope, 
the foundation on which you are all building it, with this ad- 
ditional remark, which I beseech you to take to your most 
serious consideration — that the sacraments and ordinances of 
the gopel are of divine appointment, and can only be lawfully 
administered by divine authority — that Christian privileges, 
gospel hope, and Scriptural assurance, are all founded on 
covenant engagements, and are only to be enjoyed by us as 
we are faithful to the engagement on our part — that sincerity 



26G CONFIRMATION. 

in error is no excuse for it, and that all this flows from the 
unalterable Scripture declaration, '"Other foundation can no 
man lay, than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ." 

III. Thirdly, I am to point out its use and propriety, as 
continued in the Church to this day. 

ZSuw, whatever this was in the primitive Church, the same 
in its degree is it in the present day, "For Jesus Christ is 
the same yesterday., to-dav, and for ever." 

The only difficulty *on the subject grows out of the close 
connexion of this ordinance with miraculous t> - ifts as used in 
the primitive Church. But when we know, as we do, my 
brethren, from the word of God, that this was not the sole 
purpose of its administration, but that it was the appointed 
means of obtaining the Holy Spirit, in those 2,'ifts and graces 
which arc universally necessary to salvation, the difficulty 
should be done away, and all stand prepared to submit them- 
selves to the righteousness of God in any and every appoint- 
ment of his wisdom for the communication of his grace. 

The unity of the Church also, — by which is meant the 
union, fellowship, or agreement of believers in the faith, doc- 
trine, woiship, and authority of that one spouse and body of 
Christ, which he bought with his own blood, and in com- 
munion with which only, are the promises of God yea and 
amen to us in Christ, — is of as great importance to us now 
as t<> the primitive Christians. And though we cannot evi- 
dence our title to this di.-tinction by miraculous powers, yet 
we can avouch the authority of those to whom miracles were 
given for the establishment of the Church, transmitted down 
to us by a verifiable succession for your benefit. And by the 
.orders of the ministry, the sacraments of the Church, and 
this ordinance, we show that we continue "in the apostles' 
doctrine and fellowship, ami in breaking of bread, and 
prayers;," and we only ask those who in any of these particu- 
lars act dillereiitly, to show an equally safe and satisfactory 
ground of trust in matters of faith. 

In the application of the sacrament of baptism to infants, 
however, (a practice which stands on the same ground of 
divine authority with the Scriptures and the Christian sab- 
bath.) both the use and the propriety of continuing this rite 
in the Church is most clearly evidenced. 



CONFORMATION. 267 

That those who have been dedicated to God in their in- 
fancy, and by the providence and permission of the great 
Head of the Church have been admitted to become parties to 
the covenant of grace, should, on obtaining a suitable sense 
of the benefits conferred on them, and of the weighty obliga- 
tions they have come under, manifest their thankfulness, and 
ratify in their own persons the engagements entered into for 
them, is the dictate both of reason and religion. From the 
days of the apostles, therefore, it has been the rule of the 
Church to receive such as were baptized in infancy, to full 
fellowship and communion by this ordinance of confirmation, 
in which the person confirmed renews or ratifies, before the 
assembled congregation, the baptismal covenant, with a full 
understanding of the nature and extent of the obligations he 
or she comes under — enters into a most solemn engagement 
to fulfil the duties of the Christian life, and, before many 
witnesses, makes that good confession of Christ, which is re- 
quired of every believer. And the Church receiving this 
accession to her communion, invokes the blessing of God on 
the engagement made, and by the imposition of the hands of 
her chief officers, imparts that Holt Spirit which was given 
to abide with her for ever, for the comfort, strength, and 
sanctification of all her members. 

In the sacrament of baptism rightly administered, we re- 
ceive by the Holy Ghost, spiritual regeneration, together 
with remission of sins, whether original or actual. But un- 
less we cast away from us the authority of God's word, and 
seek to be wise above what is written, it is by this divine ap- 
pointment of laying on of hands, that we receive such mea- 
sure of the Holy Ghost as is required to enable us to over- 
come the world, to resist the devil, deny the flesh, to fight 
the good fight of faith, and lay hold on eternal life. 

By the continuance of this ordinance in the administra- 
tions of the Church, a strong objection against the baptism 
of infants is removed. 

It is objected, that it is a mockery to administer a solemn 
sacrament to a creature unconscious of any thing that is done; 
and that it is unjust to bind any one by the assent of another, 
without the privity and concurrence of the person bound. 
These objections, my brethren, are more specious than solid, 
and carry on their face the mark of this world's wisdom. 



9. 



268 CONFIRMATION. 

In reply, it may briefly be observed, that it is nevertheless 
just such a mockery as God commanded and countenanced 
in the Old Testament Church in the ordinance of circum- 
cision, which is no where forbidden in the gospel, which the 
apostles of Christ sanctioned, and which the records of the 
Church show to have been the practice from the days of St. 
John the beloved disciple. And just such a piece of injustice 
as is most readily allowed in temporal things for their benefit. 

But whatever weight any may be disposed to give to ob- 
jections of this character, must be removed by the provision 
made in this ordinance for their taking upon themselves with 
understanding and seriousness, the obligations and privileges 
of that sacrament. While there is abundant cause of thanks- 
giving to God that by this mockery, as it is profanely called, 
these unconscious creatures have been taken care of, trained 
up and nurtured in the fear of the Lord, prayed for, and 
prepared for those fuller communications of his grace and 
good Spirit, promised to carry them onward in the divine 
life "unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of 
the fulness of Christ." 

Having thus, my brethren and hearers, laid before you — 
though in a very brief and inadequate manner, — the origin, 
authority, and use of this ordinance in the Church of Christ, 
I will now, as was proposed in the fourth place, point out the 
qualifications necessary to those who would receive it with 
advantage. 

The first qualification I will mention, is knowledge, by 
which is meant such an acquaintance with what God hath 
revealed to us of the condition of man, of his purposes of 
mercy in Christ, of the means of grace, and of the duties and 
ol (ligations of a Christian, as all may attain to from reading 
the Scriptures, and the instructions of pious friends. 

Secondly, a devout and serious spirit, or religious frame of 
mind. This is essential to any expectation of advantage from 
this or any other ordinance of religion. And if any thing 
can produce such a frame of mind, it surely must be present 
when we come forward in the face of the Church, to enter 
into solemn covenant with God in Christ, and in the terms 
ami spirit of the baptismal vow, to renounce the world, the 
flesh, and the devil, to believe in God and to serve him, with 



CONFIRMATION. 269 

the firm though humble expectation of being enabled, by his 
good Spirit, to keep this vow, unto our life's end. 

Thirdly, repentance, by which is meant a hearty and sin- 
cere sorrow for all the sins, negligences, and ignorances, we 
have been personally gtailty of against God and our neighbor, 
with real purpose of amended life. And this evidenced by 
humble confession of them to God, with prayer for pardon of 
them through the merits of Christ — bv earnest endeavors to 
repair any wrong done or offence committed against our 
neighbor — and by a change or alteration in our former course 
of life. 

The last qualification I shall mention is faith; by which is 
to be understood, in this case, such a belief of what God hath 
spoken unto us by his Son, with such reliance on the promises 
made us through him, as to lead us to desire and earnestly 
to expect the fulfilment of them; and with such trust and con- 
fidence in the means he hath appointed for the communica- 
tion of his grace, as enables us cordially and joyfully to use 
them. 

Examine yourselves, then, my brethren, who now mean to 
ratify and confirm your baptismal engagements, whether you 
are thus prepared, whether you can now, with a good con- 
science, make that full and unreserved surrender of yourselves 
to God, which his service requires, that open confession of 
Jesus Christ as your God, your saviour and your king, which 
his religion demands from all who would be his disciples in- 
deed, and that firm determination to obey the gospel which 
its precepts enjoin. For confirmation is only another name 
for your solemn dedication of yourselves to God and his Son 
— an open renunciation of the world, and separation of your- 
selves, from henceforth, from its unlawful and unhallowed 
pursuits. 

If you are thus qualified and prepared, I can answer for 
the effect — the blessing awaits you, and there is help at hand 
to go on unto perfection. If you are not thus qualified, make 
not a mockery of sacred things, but let your deficiency deepen 
your penitence, and quicken your endeavor in preparing to 
meet your Saviour in the appointments of his grace upon 
earth, that you may thereby be prepared to meet him with 
joy, and not with grief, in his heavenly kingdom. . 



270 CO^JTIRMATION. 

Tet let none be deterred by timidity of spirit, humility of 
mind, or unreasonable fears, that tbev are not good enough 
to offer themselves to God; you can surelv tell whether you 

/ *■ *J V 

sincerely desire and seek the favor of God, and the life of 
the world to come. If you do long for this happy frame of 
mind, let your wants be your warrant to come to Christ, for 
this is a gracious ordinance: "Come unto me all ye that are 
weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Unto this 
man will I look, saith the Lord, even to him that is of a con- 
trite heart, and of an humble spirit, and that trembleth at 
my word." Heaven and earth are full of encouragement to 
the penitent — to such "the Spirit and the bride say, come — 
and let him that heareth sav, come — and let him that is 
athirst, come — and whosoever will, let him come, and take 
of the water of life freely." 



- 

SEEMON III. 



NATURE AND DESIGN OF THE HOLY COMMUNION, 



■ 



St. Luke xsii. 19. (last clause.) 
"This do in remembrance of me." 

Few things of such prime importance to our religious con- 
dition are so little understood, it is to be feared, as the nature 
and design of the sacraments of the Church. Of the small 
number, comparatively speaking, who come to them, the 
number is still smaller of those who rightly apprehend their 
purpose, and perceive distinctly. the solemn obligation entered 
into by their observance. 

This is more especially the case with the sacrament of 
baptism, which has declined in the estimation of the great 
majority of those who bring their children to this ordinance, 
into a mere ceremony for giving its name to an infant, 
coupled perhaps with somewhat of a superstitious feeling. 
But it is also true, in a degree greatly to be lamented, of the 
higher sacrament of the body and blood of Christ, as is 
evidenced by the slight influence produced upon the life, in 
numbers who partake of it; it being by far too common, for 
the credit of the Christian profession, to see in those who are 
communicants, as much engagement with the world as if they 
had not renounced it in their baptism, and solemnly under' 
taken, over the broken body and shed blood of their Saviour, 
to walk in newness of life. 

If to this we add, that entire neglect and disregard of this 
divinely appointed ordinance, which the great majority in 
Christian lands manifest, it presents an awful proof of the de- 
clining state of religion among us, and calls for the united 
exertions of ministers and members to withstand this evil; 
the one by explaining the nature and design of the institution, 
with the obligation to observe it, in all who would be saved 
— the other by showing, in the example of their lives, its in- 
fluence and effect as a means of grace. 



272 NATURE AND DESIGN OF THE HOLY COMMUNION. 

That it is a duty which no baptized person can excusably 
neglect, there can be no question. "This do in remembrance 
of me" being as much a command of the gospel, as "Thou 
shalt not kill" is of the decalogue; and let us ever bear in 
mind, that they proceeded from the same mouth, and will be 
enforced by that supreme authority which governs all things, 
in heaven and upon earth. And I mention this to awaken 
the consciences of that great multitude who, though they are 
partakers of the benefits of the gospel, are yet unaffected by 
them, and in an especial manner withhold themselves from 
this ordinance. ]Sow though this unjustifiable neglect most 
commonly proceeds from a real and visible preference of the 
pleasures of sin, in some of its many and deceitful allure- 
ments; vet in some cases, and those not infrequent, ignorance 
of the nature and design of the institution, and a consequent 
erroneous view of all that relates to it as a positive appoint- 
ment of Christianity, keeps back some who might otherwise 
be induced to make this o-ood confession of the Lord Jesus 
Christ as their only hope of acceptance with God. 

This therefore I shall endeavor to remove by laying before 

you, 

First: A brief explanation of the word Sacrament. 

Secondly: I shall point out the nature and design of the 
ordinance; 

And then conclude with an enforcement of the duty. 

"This do in remembrance of me." 

I. First, I am to lay before you a brief explanation of the 
word sacrament. 

It may perhaps appear strange to you, my brethren and 
hearers, that the word sacrament is not used in the Scrip- 
tures as applied either to baptism or the Lord's Supper, and 
that the original word in the Latin language translated sacra- 
ment in our version, has little or no affinity with that in the 
original Greek in the IS r ew Testament, for which it has been 
substituted. It is nevertheless the case, while it is by no 
means clear that the exchange has been advantageous. 

In its most common use the original Latin word, trans- 
lated sacrament, was applied to the military oath by which 
the Roman soldiers pledged themselves to their general, and 
in which, being heathens, they devoted themselves to the in- 



NATURE AND DESIGN OE THE HOLY COMMUNION. 273 

fernal G-ods if they proved unfaithful; whereas the Greek 
word for which this was substituted denotes what we express 
by the word mystery; that is, something of a spiritual and 
invisible nature, figured out by an external and visible rep- 
resentation. And as the word mystery was chiefly applied 
to the higher and more sublime superstitions of heathen re- 
ligion, to which none were admitted but with proper qualifi- 
cations, and under the most solemn obligations, it was natu- 
rally and properly made use of by the Apostle to express, in 
like manner, both the obligations and the expectations con- 
tained in the most sublime appointments of the Christian 
religion. The doubt expressed, that the exchange of the 
words has not been advantageous, is grounded upon this, that 
by reason of this change, the obligations incurred are mainly 
respected, while the means of fulfilling them through the aid 
of divine grace, specially annexed to the sacraments of the 
gospel, and an integral part of their value to us, is not suffi- 
ciently set forth. Especially true is this of the sacrament of 
the Lord's Supper, which is not an initiating ordinance like 
the sacrament of baptism, to be but once performed, but a 
continually returning duty, involving the original obligations 
entered into at baptism, with the assurance thereby pledged 
of the spiritual help, necessary to fulfil them. 

This however is only so far of importance, my brethren, 
as it may serve to keep your minds evenly balanced; equally 
free from a low, and too familiar, view of the ordinance, as 
a mere memorial of the death of Cueist, and from an inflated 
and enthusiastic notion of a superstitious sanctity, alike de- 
structive of all rational performance of this, or of any other 
religious duty. For the word sacrament is now understood, 
by all well instructed Christians, to mean, when applied to 
the Lord's supper, not simply the commemoration of our 
Saviour's passion for us, nor yet the renewal of our baptismal 
engagements; nor as a fresh vow of fidelity to the captain of 
our salvation, as soldiers of the cross; nor yet as a visible 
pledge of heaven's mercy and favor, to all who worthily 
partake of it; but as combining all these, in one sublime and 
sacred mystery, accompanied by visible and significant sym- 
bols, ordained by Christ himself, for the perpetual comfort 
and assurance of all his faithful disciples. 
[Vol, l — *18.] 



27-i NATUKE AND DESIGN OF THE HOLT COMMUNION. 

"With this "brief explanation of the word Sacrament, we 
shall be better prepared, I trust, to apprehend the nature 
and design of the ordinance; which was what I proposed, in 
the second j^lace, to point out to you. 

II. All appointments of a ritual and ceremonial description,. 
in religion, are rendered necessary by the corrupt and fallen 
condition of human nature. Through this depravation of our 
faculties, we naturally prefer, things present and sensible, 
however transitory in their nature, to those which are remote 
and invisible, however satisfied we may be of their superi- 
ority, both in degree and duration. Of this the proof is, alas,, 
but too easy; there being none present, who are not fully 
persuaded of the infinite disproportion between things tem- 
poral and eternal, while there are many, who are in no way 
influenced or affected by this acknowledged difference.. A 
religion therefore wholly spiritual, and abstracted from sen- 
sible things, would have been impracticable to creatures 
so continually acted upon by external objects, while their 
spiritual faculties were deadened and perverted by the enter- 
tainment of sin. To meet this, the actual condition of human 
nature, the religion God hath revealed to us r is most wisely 
and mercifully adapted. The evidence that it is divine, is- 
so full, clear, and convincing, as to rendter inexcusable all 
who reject or neglect it, when fairly proposed to them. The 
doctrines it teaches are so consistent with tile perfections of 
God, and so fitted to the imperfections of man, so adapted to 
increase bis happiness in this life, and to perpetuate it in 
eternity, that faith and obedience are enforced by the purest 
and highest reason, while the external appointments of the 
gospel in things ritual and positive are not only orderly and 
decent in themselves, but calculated moreover to give vigor' 
and effect to things moral and spiritual, of which they are a 
figure. 

The Church, the ministry, and the sacraments, therefore,- 
are helps to faith; resting places, as it were, and sensible 
objects, on which our poor earthly and grovelling minds may 
repose, while contemplating the substance of those shadows, 
as we journey onwards to eternity; and they are therefore of 
divine institution, that our assurance may be full and com- 
plete.. It is not, however, as helps to faith only, that these 



NATURE AND DESIGN OP THE HOLT COMMUNION. 275 

divine appointments are limited; a wise and merciful God hath 
been graciously pleased to constitute them channels, or means,- 
of that spiritual grace, or divine assistance, without which 
we can do nothing, in working out our everlasting salvation. 

With respect, therefore, to the particular ordinance under 
consideration, as all the benefits and advantages we derive 
from the mercy of God are the consequences of Christ's 
undertaking for us; and as his death upon the cross was in 
full satisfaction of the penalty we had incurred; and at once, 
a proof of the highest love towards us, both on the part of 
God the Father, in laying upon his beloved Son "the iniquities 
of us all;" and on the part of this beloved Son, in freely con- 
senting "to bear our sins in his own body upon the tree;" this 
particular circumstance, of his humiliation and sufferings in 
our behalf, has been consecrated into the highest and most 
comprehensive, the most solemn and efficacious appointment, 
of the religion he has established in the world. 

The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, therefore, is in the 
nature of a memorial, or solemn religious commemoration, 
of this great and influential event, to be perpetually cele- 
brated by all his true disciples and worshippers, until the 
end of time. Of this its commemorative nature, we have an 
example and exposition in the institution of the passover in 
the Old Testament Church. For as that was to the Jews a 
constant annual memorial of their deliverance from Egyptian 
bondage, and particularly of the distinguishing mercy of God 
in sparing those households which were marked with the 
blood of the Paschal Lamb, when he smote the first born of 
the land of Egypt with death; in like manner, and by the 
closest analogy, the sacrifice of Christ upon the cross is to 
Christians the perpetual memorial of their deliverance from 
the bondage of sin; and the application of his blood, who is 
the true Paschal Lamb, the only shield from the penalty of 
eternal death, denounced against every transgression of the 
holy law of God. 

To limit this solemn ordinance, however, my brethren, to 
the nature of a mere memorial, after the manner of an an- 
niversary commemoration of some memorable temporal 
event, is altogether to lose sight of its sacramental character. 
For it is, further, in the nature of a feast upon a sacrifice^ 



276 NATURE AND DESIGN OF THE HOLY COMMUNION. 

that is, a thankful and joyful religious participation of in- 
stituted emblems — or outward and visible signs of a sacrifice 
already offered — from the efficacy of which sacrifice, all 
benefits and blessings are derived to redeemed man. Thus 
is this ordinance every way adapted to our condition, my 
hearers; what is outward and visible, is appointed and in- 
tended as a remembrancer, a help to faith — while what is 
signified thereby, calls forth the spiritual faculties of the soul, 
to realize the exceeding greatness of that love, wherewith 
''Christ hath loved us, and given himself for us," and stirs 
up the will, and engages the affections, to cleave to his 
blessed example and holy truth, and walk worthy of him who 
hath purchased for us, pardon, grace, and everlasting life. 

In the design of this sacrament, also, we shall find the 
same infinite wisdom put forth to render it effectual to all the 
spiritual wants of our condition; and in this, as in all other, 
the commands of God, to render our obedience the source of 
our comfort and happiness. 

The design, therefore, of the institution of this, the most 
solemn ordinance of Christ's religion, and of the command 
— "Do this, in remembrance of me," is, First, to fix and im- 
print in our minds a deep and abiding impression of his pas- 
sion and death, as the most effectual motive to universal 
obedience. 

And what, my dear hearers, can be considered a more power- 
ful argument, to persuade and prevail upon men to pursue 
the paths of peace and holiness, than a due consideration of 
the exemplary life, and meritorious death, of our blessed 
Saviour. His life is so complete a pattern of all virtue, and 
his death so conclusive an evidence of the hatred which God 
bears towards sin, that whosoever frequently and seriously 
meditates upon these things, can be at no loss either for suf- 
ficient direction or for the most powerful motives, to a holy 
life upon the principles of the doctrine of Chkist. 

What more powerful antidote to temptation than to behold 
Jesus Christ, and him crucified, evidently set forth among 
us in the sacramental elements? What more persuasive ex- 
hortation against all the deceits of sin, than the proof to be 
drawn from the death of Christ, of God's hatred of sin, and 
compassion for the sinner? And what more affecting argu- 



NATURE AND DESIGN OF THE HOLY COMMUNION. 277 

rnent for the observance of this, and all our Saviour's injunc- 
tions, than to consider that it was his dying command — dying 
too for our sakes — to do this in remembrance of him, as the 
most effectual means to fill our hearts with devout affections, 
and adorn our lives with fruits of righteousness. Oh what 
cords of love do the careless and thoughtless votaries of the 
world, who turn away from this sacrament, break through! 
What painfully purchased means of mercy and salvation, do 
they contemptuously cast from them! Alas, for those im- 
mortal souls, who will not be saved. 

2. Secondly, partaking of the sacramental elements in com- 
memoration of the death of Christ, is designed to impress 
upon our hearts, that the atonement thereby made upon the 
cross for sin, is to fallen man the only ground of hope, and 
assurance of pardon and acceptance. 

The receiving this sacrament, therefore, is a continual ac- 
knowledgment, that that pardon of sin, which God vouch- 
safes us upon the condition of unfeigned repentance, is the 
purchase of the death of Cueist, and the effect of that great 
and eternal sacrifice, once offered as an expiation for the sins 
of the whole world. And sincere penitents can never, with 
more reasonable and well-grounded faith, hope to have ap- 
plied to themselves, the benefit of the grace and forgiveness 
purchased for all, by that great propitiation, than when they 
are, with true devotion, and with full purpose of amended 
life, commemorating their Saviour's sufferings, in that solemn 
manner, which he himself has appointed. They can never 
with more lively hope express their full trust and humble 
dependance upon God, that "he will also give them freely all 
other things," than when they are worthily and devoutly 
commemorating, according to our Lord's own institution — 
how God "spared not even his own Son, but delivered him 
up for us all." 

One main design of this ordinance, then, my brethren and 
hearers, is to encourage men to repent, and to enable them 
to perfect their repentance. It is not, therefore, to be con- 
fined as a privilege to confirmed believers, as some teach, 
and is too generally admitted. The blood of Christ, in the 
language of Scripture, is a fountain opened for sin and for 
nn cleanness — that is, for sin truly repented of; and the benefit 



278 NATURE AND DESIGN OF THE HOLY COMMUNION. 

thereof is never more likely to be effectually applied, than 
when, with sincere resolutions of renewed obedience, we obey 
the injunction of my text, by partaking of these holy mysteries. 
What an awful account, then, will those have to give, who 
are called to the knowledge of this grace, and yet, with a 
careless indifference, neglect this appointment of a Saviour's 
dying love! — and what excuse can be made, even for the 
sinner, who thus shows that he prefers to continue in sin, 
with eternal death as its wages, rather than to repent and be 
saved? 

3. A third design of the sacrament of the Lord's supper, is 
to continue down to all generations the memory of "the love 
of God our Saviour, which he shed on us abundantly, through 
Jesus Christ our Saviour.'' 

And as this is what is to be understood in the more con- 
fined sense of the word memorial, when applied to this in- 
stitution of religion, so observation and experience teach us, 
my brethren, that without sumo such solemn observance, the 
memory even of this great event might have been lost among- 
men. 

T< > communicate, therefore, in remembrance of Christ, is 
to profess publicly our faith in his death, as that full satis- 
faction to the broken law, which the justice of God required 
as the condition of forgiveness; while it is also a perpetuating 
or keeping up in the world, the memory of this great event, 
as the ground of mercy and reconciliation with God to every 
generation of sinners. It is on our part "showing forth the 
Lord's death until he come." 

4. Another and very important design of this institution, 
as a public' ordinance of religion, is to give to Christians a 
very impressive and affecting opportunity to unite with one 
heart and one voice in returning thanks to God for his un- 
speakable mercy, in the gift of his only begotten Son,- for the 
redemption of mankind; whence the whole of this service is 
usually called the eucharist, that is, the solemn thanksgiving. 
And if we are at all times bound to return thanks to God for all 
his mercies, for the mercies of every day, and of every hour, 
with how much greater earnestness ought we to express the 
same thankful disposition of soul, when we are commemo- 
rating that mercy, my brethren, which is not only the greatest 



NATURE AND DESIGN OF THE HOLT COMMUNION. 279 

of all others, but the fountain also and foundation of them 
all? 

As it is an ungrateful heart which receives the blessings of 
God's fatherly providence, day by day, without one tribute 
of] a thankful spirit offered up to the Giver of every good and 
perfect gift, so it must be an ice-cold, infidel disposition, 
which can contemplate this precious gift of God's love, and 
hear the thanksgivings of his people, without being moved to 
go and do likewise, and to add his voice and his heart to the 
eucharistical hymn, with which we conclude our sacramental 
service. "We praise thee, we bless thee, we worship thee, 
we glorify thee, we give thanks to thee, for thy great glory, 
Lord God, heavenly King, God the Father Almighty." Yet, 
alas! though all are redeemed, such is the enmity of the carnal 
mind, that, ten tongues are silent, or lifted up in blasphemy, 
for one that returns to give glory to the God of our salvation. 

5. A fifth design of the sacrament of the Lord's Supper is, 
the confirming and renewing of the covenant with God, 
entered into at our baptism; and thus to keep alive and fresh 
in our minds the obligations we have come under by being 
baptized into the death of Christ, and the promises of God 
of the succor and help of his Holy Spirit, sealed to us in 
that sacrament, and renewed in this. 

And who that considers what poor, frail, sinful, and cor- 
rupt creatures we are — who that knows how compassed about 
with infirmity, and exposed to temptation our whole pil- 
grimage is — but must admire and adore the wisdom and 
goodness of God our Saviour, in making this provision for 
our comfort and assurance. 

As there is no man that liveth and sinneth not; as the grace 
given in baptism decays, by reason of sin wilfully committed; 
and as without repentance there is no return to God, and re- 
newal of spiritual strength, and no available repentance with- 
out faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; therefore is this wise and 
effectual provision of the sacrament of the body and blood of 
Christ made, that the sincere penitent and humble be- 
liever, beholding by faith, "the Lamb of God which taketh 
away the sins of the world," may have a visible and sensible 
pledge of God's promised mercy and favor, in the use of the 
means through which he hath been pleased to appoint that 



280 NATURE AND DESIGN OF THE HOLY COMMUNION. 

we are to receive them. Therefore it is of perpetual obliga- 
tion and continuance in the Church, for the nourishment and 
sustenance of his followers, until "he shall appear the second 
time, without sin unto salvation." And what an awful thought 
it is, my brethren, to reflect how those will then meet him 
who have been baptized into his name and death, have had 
the light of his blessed gospel shining around them, the 
means of his grace freely offered and pressed upon them, and 
yet have made light of it, and never once confessed him be- 
fore men, or acknowledged any obligation to him, as their 
Redeemer, by obeying this his dying command. Oh! what an 
aggravation of our guilt it is, to add contempt to ingratitude. 

The last purpose I shall mention as designed by the insti- 
tution of this ordinance, is a profession of our communion one 
with another, and a strong obligation to mutual love, charity, 
and good will. 

As the death of Christ is the means whereby we are re- 
conciled to God, so it is intended also to reconcile men to 
each other — that is, to enforce all those motives by which 
peace and union are promoted, forgiveness of injuries en- 
couraged, and loving kindness extended. With great reason, 
therefore, it is, that the commemoration of his death for us all, 
should be accompanied, in our degree, by that temper and 
mind which was in Christ Jests- — "Beloved, if God so loved 
us, we ought also to love one another." 

That creatures of the same God, partakers of the same ruin, 
and heirs of the same hope, springing from the one only 
mediator between God and man, should be of one mind and 
i if one d< K-trine in the great affair of religion, and in all things 
kindly affectioned one towards another, is the most reason- 
able of all expectations, the most natural of all duties. That 
it is not so, is greatly to be deplored. It therefore behooves 
us, my brethren, to be very careful on Scripture principles, 
and under Scripture directions, that we be not of the number 
who violate this obligation. Nor is the obligation of that 
difficult nature which many suppose; for Christan charity in- 
volves no surrender of Christian principle, neither does it 
demand any accommodation with error, either in the doc- 
trines or order of the gospel. In its exercise it is confined 
exclusively to persons. Opinions are not, neither can be, the 



NATURE AND DESIGN OF THE HOLY COMMUNION. 281 

objects of its operation. And if thus understood, and acted 
upon, it would fully answer the great and gracious purpose 
of its enactment, in maintaining peace and good will, even 
amidst the dissolution of that unity among Christians, which 
marks the latter day of the gospel dispensation. 

I shall now conclude with an enforcement of the duty, en- 
joined in my text, "Do this in remembrance of me." 

And First, to whom are these affectionate words addressed, 
my hearers? Primarily to the twelve disciples, certainly, 
who had been with him from the beginning, and were there- 
fore the better qualified to be his witnesses, and to make 
known his will and intention to the rest of the world, as our 
Lord himself told them, "And ye also shall bear witness, be- 
cause ye have been with me from the beginning." 

As these witnesses, therefore, taught and commanded, that 
this commemoration of the death of Christ was to be consid- 
ered as a standing ordinance in the Church; as the primitive 
Christians received and practiced it as of general obligation; 
and the canon of Scripture hath recorded it as an integral 
part of Christianity; these circumstances, independent of any 
reason or benefit to us from the ordinance itself, put all who 
have been and yet continue negligent of it, in the class of 
transgressors, not only of a plain law of the gospel, but of a 
law enforced by every motive which can have weight, either 
with a grateful or a selfish nature. Every way, therefore, 
they are without excuse, who from year to year hear the in- 
vitations of the ministers of Christ to prepare themselves for 
this duty, and yet turn away from it with indifference, as from 
something they were at perfect liberty to observe or refuse. 

Secondly, as it is clearly revealed to us that there is no 
approach 1fco God for us sinners, but only through the Lord 
Jesus Christ, as our saving relation to him, our new or affi- 
liated state, in contradiction to our state by nature, is begun 
in the sacrament of baptism and continued in that of the eu- 
charist, by virtue of our union with his Son Jesus Christ our 
Lord, and is no otherwise even to be hoped for under the 
gospel: Where shall those appear who are wilfully strangers 
to this saving ordinance of his express appointment, when he 
shall arise to shake terribly the earth, and to execute his 
threatenings upon the ungodly? "Who is then to release them 



282 NATURE AND DESIGN OF THE HOLT COMMUNION. 

from the obligations of their baptismal vow, and put in a 
plea to defend them from the just demands of God's violated 
law? Who is to present an atonement for them adequate to 
the infinite demerit of sin in the sight of God? Can they ap- 
ply to the Lord Jesus to plead for them? Alas, he then sits 
as their judge, not as their advocate, and must say according 
to truth — I never knew you, you formed no acquaintance 
with me, in that state of reprieve and probation my suffer- 
ings purchased for you. Can they plead for themselves ei- 
ther ignorance or penitence, or procrastinated good intentions 
cut short by death? Alas, before that dread tribunal every 
human mouth shall be stopped by the consciousness that 
there can be no excuse for rejection' of the means of grace, 
no voice shall be heard but that of the man Christ Jesus, 
nor any other sentence be passed but that of, "come ye 
blessed, or depart ye cursed." Oh, my poor fellow sinners, 
would ye but hear it, "Now is the accepted time, now is the 
day of salvation" — now your crucified Lord can plead for 
vim and with you — -now he offers you the free and full ben- 
efit of all Ins tears, and groans, and blood, and beseeches you 
by the mercies of God, to lay to heart the things which make 
for your peace, before they are forever hid from your eyes. 
'Turn ye, turn ye, for why will ye die." 

But you will say, perhaps, that we are unworthy to par- 
take of so sacred an ordinance. It is invested with such an 
awful sanctity that we consider it unapproachable by mor- 
tals, without the danger of incurring extreme guilt. And is 
it really so, that any present are deterred by this erroneous 
estimate of a means of grace? Are any so misled as to think 
that a gracious God would appoint and command an ordi- 
nance of his religion, either dangerous or unprofitable in it- 
self, to his creatures? Far, very far, be such an impious 
thought from every soul present. No, my brethren and 
hearers, whatever the most merciful God" hath provided for 
us, and commanded to be observed, is both animating and 
profitable, when duly considered. We may be unworthy, 
and in one sense the very best of us is unworthy, of the least 
of all Goo's mercies. But if we are unworthy in the more 
common use of the word, it is our own fault; we can have 
taken no pains to prepare ourselves — we must be in the aw- 



NATURE AND DESIGN OF THE HOLY COMMUNION. 283 

ful condition of preferring sin to God, the world to heaven, 
or at the best, our own righteousness to the righteousness of 
God, which is by faith of Jesus Christ. 

And what ground have those who thus make faith of none 
effect, by resting on their own righteousness, to suppose that 
it will stand them in any stead in the great and dreadful day 
of the Lord? Has heaven spoken of any such dependence? 
Does the revelation God has made to us through his Son give 
countenance to such a presumptuous hope? If it does not, 
where do you find it, unless in the whispers of the father of 
lies to the desperately wicked heart of the natural man? Oh 
trust not to it, my hearers, for it will deceive you — trust ra- 
ther to him who hath bought you with his own blood — who 
invites you to peace here and glory hereafter, through faith 
in his only saving name, and who tells you, in words which 
cannot fail, "No man cometh unto the Father but by me — 
Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his 
blood, ye have no life in you." My dear hearers, if under 
the gospel men can be saved without the sacraments of the 
Church of Christ, wherefore did God appoint them? If the 
spiritual grace indispensable to the salvation of a fallen sin- 
ner is to be had, independently of the means to which it is 
expressly annexed by divine institution, whereto serveth the 
Christian dispensation, or what is the use of revealed religion? 
Cast away from you, therefore, this fruit of unbelief and 
death, and build upon that tried foundation stone, which 
neither the storms of time, nor the tempest of a dissolving 
world, shall be able to shake, even Jesus Christ and him 
crucified for us. 

To whom, &c. &c. 



SERMON IT. 



THE OBLIGATION TO PARTAKE OF THE LORD'S SUPPER. 



1 Corinthians, xi. 26. 

"For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the 
Lord's death till he come." 

To apprehend aright the purpose and design of a religious 
ordinance, is the best means to feel, as we ought to feel, the 
obligation we are under to observe it, and to enable u*s, un- 
derstandingly, and so far acceptably, to perform it. This is 
rendered peculiarly necessary, my brethren, from another 
consideration, which is this, that the external appointments 
of Christianity are not only duties, because of institution and 
command, but means of grace; that is, channels of personal 
benefit and advantage, in the communication of spiritual 
blessings, and helps tc faith also; that is, divinely authorized, 
outward and visible representations and assurances, of things 
at present invisible. 

This distinctive character is derived to them altogether 
from the appointment of the institutor, and this so strictly, 
that there can be no rational grounds of confidence in their 
efficacv, when severed from the authoritv of their original 
institution. Imagination, stretched to enthusiasm, may in- 
deed supply this defect, but it cannot cure it: and the persua- 
sion of an erroneous judgment may altogether disregard it; 
but no persuasion of mind can make that to be, which is not, 
ov alter the fixed order of revealed truth, or give to imita- 
tions of religious mysteries, however exact the copy, the 
sanctified character of the means of grace 

As God alone can appoint to what external religious ob- 
servances his grace shall be annexed, and by what marks 
they are to be verified to us, as divine; it can never be a mat- 
ter of indifference to a serious mind, upon what its assurance 
rests, that religious ordinances are what they profess to be . 
Could this view of the subject be reasonably disputed, it may 



286 THE OBLIGATION TO PARTAKE OF THE LOED's SUPPER. 

be farther confirmed by this; that as in the celebration of re- 
ligious ordinances, particularly of the sacraments, there is an 
administrator, as well as recipient of what he administers, 
there must be an authority, or right to act in this case, in the 
administrator, which is not in the recipients. And this au- 
thority, or right to act, in things divine, must surely partake 
of the nature of the things acted, and be itself divine. 

In the very serious exercises of mind which should pre- 
cede religious observances, and particularly the higher solem- 
nities of religion, it is very important, especially to young 
communicants — and, in the present circumstances of the gos- 
pel, may I not venture to say, to old communicants too — that 
this should form such a part of that consideration of the sub- 
ject, as shall enable them to act with a rational confidence, 
not only that they are duly qualified with proper dispositions 
of heart, but with such an understanding of the nature and 
design of the ordinance, and with such a full persuasion of 
the divine character of its administration, as is worthy of the 
name of faith. For faith, in the just and scriptural meaning 
of that word, is not any, or every persuasion of the mind, 
however full and strong, which a person may entertain on 
the subject of religion; for then would the greatest errors 
be the highest points ot faith. But true faith is the recep- 
tion of divine truth, upon divine testimony, adherence to 
divine direction upon divine command, and reliance upon- 
divine promises, upon divine authority to administer the seals 
of the covenant of grace in the sacraments of the Church. 
This being once ascertained upon just and scriptural grounds, 
the mind is settled, and the ordinances of religion are met 
and engaged in, with that union of the understanding and 
the affections, which render them at once a reasonable and a 
profitable service, performed towards God. 

Applying these observations to the solemn purpose we 
have before us this day, my brethren, will at once, I trust, 
confirm their soundness and practical utility, and impress 
upon all our hearts, that deep personal interest, which every 
individual favored with the gospel actually has, and should 
feel, in the event commemorated. 

"For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye 
do show the Lord's death till he come." 



THE OBLIGATION TO PARTAKE OF THE LORD'S SUPPER. 287 

That these words of the apostle present to us the death of 
Christ, as the object of our perpetual commemoration; that 
they require this commemoration to be made publicly through 
the medium of material symbols or emblems; and that each 
one of us has the highest personal interest in the effect pro- 
duced by this death, upon the condition of the world; I con- 
sider such plain and obvious inferences, as to stand in no 
need of any proof: but at the same time, so little heeded by 
the great majority for whose benefit they are revealed, and 
so superficially considered by many who make the commemo- 
ration, as to demand both exposition and enforcement. I 
shall therefore make them the subjects of our consideration 
and improvement on the present occasion. 

First, then, the death of Christ is here presented to us aa 
the object of our perpetual commemoration. 

This is confirmed to us by these words of the text— "Ye do 
show the Lord's death till he come" — which plainly extend 
its observance to the close of the Christian dispensation; when 
the crucified Jesus will come in the full glory of the Godhead 
to inquire into the fruits of his sufferings for sinners, and to 
reward or punish them everlastingly, according to the effects 
produced upon their hearts and lives, by the truth of his doc- 
trine, the laws of his religion, and the grace of his Holy 
Spirit. And this is enforced by whatever is elsewhere set 
forth in the Scriptures, of the cause and the purpose of his 
death, and of the end and design of its being set apart, as & 
solemn ordinance of religion. 

To a reasonable and profitable observance of this sacred 
mastery, then, it must be evident, my brethren and hearers, 
it is necessary that we be so far informed and instructed in 
the fundamental truths of revealed religion, as to apprehend, 
in some good degree, the connexion of Christ's death with our 
personal condition, as respects Almighty God; because, with- 
out this there can be no ground at all, either for requiring or 
rendering the commanded observance. And equally evident 
it must be, that to this information and instruction in re- 
ligious truth must be added faith, or that full and entire per- 
suasion of the mind, which applies the truth received per- 
sonally to ourselves, and so applies it, as to overbear and 
cast down all objection and opposition, whether suggested by 



2SS THE OBLIGATION TO PAETAKE OF THE LOED's STTPPEE. 

our own pride and vanity, countenanced by the course of 
this present evil world, or supported by interests and regards 
of the highest temporal concernment. The knowledge that 
man is a fallen, spiritually dead, creature by nature, may be 
obtained from the Scriptures, and credit may be given to it, 
as to a general and admitted truth. The same may be said 
of man's recovery from this fallen condition, through the satis- 
faction made to the Divine Justice by the sacrifice of the 
cross. But to make these truths profitable to our souls, and 
influential to the commanded commemoration of them, it is 
indispensable that a higher principle than knowledge and 
assent, even that principle which quickens knowledge, and 
gives life to testimony, shall be wrought in the heart by the 
Spieit of God. ISTow faith, we are told from the highest au- 
thority, is at once a fruit of the Spieit, and an attainment of 
our own diligence, and earnest endeavors, in the use of the 
appointed means. Fur, "faith cometh by hearing, and hear- 
ing by the word of God." And the gift of the Spieit, we are 
also told, is the fruit of prayer and supplication to God. "Ask 
and ye shall receive — seek and ye shall find — knock and it 
shall be opened unto you." Hence the want of faith is never 
considered and spoken of in the Scriptures as a pitiable, and, 
therefore, pardonable infirmity, but as a wilful, and, there- 
fore, criminal denial or neglect of revealed truth. Because 
God's public message to mankind is warrant sufficient for 
every man to whom it comes, to verify his actual condition 
by, and so to appropriate the promises and helps therein set 
forth for his encouragement, as to act upon them, and there- 
by reap the full benefit of their personal application. # 
But it is an inseparable cpuality of faith, that a course cor- 
responding with what is professed to be believed, should 
mark the life; otherwise it is mere assent to abstract truth, 
of no moral value whatever. Hence, the man who admits 
the two fundamental doctrines of Christianity, in the fall of 
man by sin, and his recovery by the death of Cheist, and yet 
manifests no active sense, either of the danger of his fallen 
condition, or of love of God, in providing for his redemption 
from it, through the Loed Jesus Cueist, must stand con- 
demned by his own heart, as an unbeliever. For so tremen- 
dous are the oonsecmences of separation from God, rendered 



THE OBLIGATION TO PARTAKE OF THE LORD'S SUPPEE. 289 

eternal by neglect of the gospel, and so infinite the value 
of restoration to his favor, rendered everlasting by faith in 
his only begotten Son, that the doctrines which involve these 
awful sanctions, if really believed, will be acted upon, and if 
truly felt in their personal application, will draw out the life 
in a grateful, thankful, commemoration of that surpassing 
mystery, the death of Christ — through which, the door of 
mercy is opened to sinful mortals. "The love of Christ con- 
straineth us," says St. Paul; and the true believer will in like 
manner "show the Lord's death till he come," not only be- 
cause it is a command — "Do this in remembrance of me," 
but because his heart feels the benefit conferred, and longs 
to offer this homage to its benefactor. 

Secondly, This commemoration is required to be made pub- 
licly, through the medium of material symbols or emblems. 

"As often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do 
show the Lord's death till he come." 

The elements of bread and wine were chosen and appointed 
by our Lord himself, as the symbol of his body broken and 
blood shed upon the cross for our redemption. They are, 
therefore, in such wise, integral parts of this religious ordi- 
nance, that without them there cannot be that special com- 
memoration of his death which he commanded his followers 
to observe. Bread and wine, however, being in the number 
of those good things which God has graciously bestowed for 
our daily nourishment, their sacramental quality cannot be 
referred to their nature, but must be sought for in their splemn 
consecration, or setting apart to this special purpose. 

That the elements used by our Lord were a part of that 
provision of which he had just partaken with his disciples in 
the paschal Supper, is very evident from the account given 
by all the evangelists. It was, therefore, by his particular 
designation of them as representations of his passion, and by 
the solemn offering of them to Almighty God, as figures of 
the sacrifice of himself upon the cross, that they were made 
to differ from what had previously been partaken of. This 
is my body, this is my blood of the New Testament, said our 
blessed Lord, after he had given thanks, or solemnly conse- 
crated the bread and wine, which he took from the table. 
This bread which I break and distribute among you, repre- 

[V..1. !,-»!".] 



290 THE OBLIGATION TO PARTAKE OF THE LORD'S SUPPEE. 

seats my body, about to be broken upon the cross for the sins 
of mankind. — "Do this in remembrance of me." In like 
manner this cup, or the wine in this cup, represents my 
blood, about to be shed upon the cross for you and for many, 
for the remission of sins. — "Do this as oft as you shall drink 
it in remembrance of me." To their consecration, therefore, 
must the sacramental character of these elements be referred. 
And though no change takes place in their nature, though 
they continue as before, bread and wine, yet a change is 
made in their use or purpose to us, which ought to be under- 
stood and felt by all who partake of them. Otherwise the 
same profanation takes place which St. Paul is reproving in 
the Corinthian Church — "They do not discern the Lord's 
body." We eat, it is true, my brethren, bread, actual bread, 
unchanged in its nature, and we drink wine equally un- 
changed in its nature, as is verified to our senses, and with- 
out surrendering our senses we cannot think otherwise. But 
by the institution of heaven, — and who shall say unto God, 
"What duest tliou^ — we eat and drink bread and wine, to 
which is annexed by its consecration, the mysterious quality 
of conveying to worthy partakers, the full benefit of the actual 
communication of the body and blood of Christ. And as 
this benefit consists in the forgiveness of repented and for- 
saken sin, and the renewal of divine grace, we learn of what 
great importance it is, in coming forward to this ordinance, 
that Christians should possess, not only suitable dispositions 
of heart, but such just expectations also, as to free them from 
the weakness of superstitious ignorance, or the rashness of a 
presumptuous confidence. 

As the substitution, then, of other elements would change, 
so as to divest this ordinance of its proper character, the 
ground is still stronger for affirming that the substitution of 
any other authority than that of Christ, in their consecration 
and administration, must render null and void whatever 
belongs to the religious and spiritual nature of a sacrament. 
It was in his priestly character that our Lord consecrated 
the elements of bread and wine, and impressed upon them 
the sanctified quality of representing his body and blood 
given for us. And it is by virtue of the priestly character 
derived from him, through his apostles, that the same sancti- 



THE OBLIGATION TO PARTAKE OF THE LOKd's SUPPEB. 291 

fied qualit}' is still impressed, and the same benefits derived, 
in all ages under the gospel dispensation. Hence we learn, 
my brethren, how very important it is, and how conducive 
to their growth in grace, and to their individual comfort, 
that Christians should well consider all that relates to the 
administration of the sacraments of the gospel — that they 
should diligently search out and ascertain, not only their own 
qualifications for the participation of them, but the qualifi- 
cations of those also who profess to administer them. For 
unless we assume, that the promises of God are so annexed 
to the outward and visible signs of his grace in the sacra- 
ments, that they pass with them, whether administered with 
or without his authority, we must admit, that to any such 
reliance upon their efficacy as is worthy of the name of faith, 
there must be divine warrant. But to assume such a prin- 
ciple, is contrary to the whole tenor and example of the 
Scriptures, and to the very ©afore and design of positive 
institutions in religion. These are intended, not only as 
means of grace, bnt as helps to faith — as visible assurances 
of things divine and invisible. And since our obligation to 
observe them is derived solely from the appointment of Gop, 
their efficacy to us is in like manner dependent on his au- 
thority to administer them. Without this, they are not in 
fact sacraments, but at the best, imitations only, of holy nrys- 
teries, from which a deluded mind alone can draw either 
comfort or assurance. 

This may be exemplified in various ways: for instance, if 
any number of private Christians were to meet together for 
a religious purpose, and it were proposed that they should 
commemorate the death of Christ, by partaking together of 
bread and wine, and should do so, would this constitute a 
sacrament, in the scriptural meaning of that word? Every 
well informed Christian will say no. But wherefore not? 
The answer will readily be given, because there is no author- 
ized administrator — and the answer is just. But suppose 
some one of the number should undertake, or be requested, 
to consecrate and administer the bread and wine to the rest: 
would this at all change the character of the act, and consti- 
tute that a sacrament, which before was not a sacrament? If 
the answer shall be yes, from any, as I dare say it would be 



292 THE OBLIGATION TO PARTAKE OF THE LORD'S SUPPER. 

from some, I then desire to know, why every private Chris- 
tian may not just as well consecrate and administer to him 
and herself, and the communion of saints be expunged from 
the Apostles' creed. For in the case supposed, the adminis- 
trator must either assume the authority, or derive it. But 
to assume divine authority is sacrilege; and the acts per- 
formed under it, are not only nullities, but profanations, 
which no piety of intention can cure, because the ignorance 
which alone can excuse such a proceeding, is itself inexcusa- 
ble. If the authority is considered good, because derived 
from others, it is still insufficient, because those from whom 
it professes to be derived, have it not themselves, and there- 
fore cannot confer it upon another. If the answer shall be 
no, as from every well instructed Christian it must and will 
be, it can no otherwise be sustained as the correct one, than 
from defect of authority in the administrator. 

But to bring the whole of this vital subject more directly 
under your serious consideration, my brethren, and to show 
the fallacy, and the danger too, of the latitudinarian notions 
so current, and so much favored in this hitter clay, suppose 
we were to substitute some other article of our bodily nour- 
ishment, pulse and water, for instance, instead of bread and 
wiue, as the outward and visible signs, in the administration 
of this sacrament, would the most authorized consecration of 
such elements impress upon them the sacred character of our 
Lord's body and blood, or could any Christian be prevailed 
upon to partake of them in commemoration of Christ's death, 
or be induced by any reasonings to expect the benefits of his 
passion to be thereby transferred and made over to him? 
Assuredly no such delusion could fasten upon any of your 
minds, my brethren. Upon what ground of scripture or rea- 
son then is it founded, that bread and wine, consecrated and 
administered without divine authority, are nevertheless ef- 
fectual to the high and holy purposes of the sacramental 
commemoration of that death, which is our life? Surely, if 
a change in the elements would vitiate either of the sacra- 
ments, much more must defect of divine authority to conse- 
crate and administer those which are divinely instituted, ren- 
der all such administrations void and of none effect. 

And these observations are addressed to you, my breth- 



THE OBLIGATION TO PARTAKE OF THE LORD'S SUPPER. 293 

ren, at tins particular time, in the hope, that the occasion it- 
self will form a practical enforcement of the points presented 
to your consideration; and in connexion with the real im- 
portance of steadfastness in your religious views and opin- 
ions, and of union, both in sentiment and practice, lead to 
such an unprejudiced examination of the subject as shall 
bring the members of the Church to be of one mind and of 
one heart, in all her services. With this view they are ad- 
dressed to your understandings, and not to your feelings, that 
when weighed and tried by the only unerring standard, the 
word of Gon, your hearts may be established and knit toge- 
ther, in the one faith of the gospel, and in the one hope of 
your high calling, certified by the sacraments of the gospel 
dulv and rightly administered. 

Thirdly — The words of my text present to our consider- 
ation, the personal interest we all have in the effects produced 
by the death of Christ, on the condition of the world. 

Of the importance of the gift of Jesus Christ to mankind 
in general, we are all, without exception, in some good de- 
gree aware. But with the great majority of men under the 
light of the gospel, and with many of you, my hearers, this 
is all; you carry it no further; you do not receive it as a di- 
vine and infallible communication from heaven,* for your in- 
dividual benefit. You do not dwell upon it in your thoughts, 
and apply it to your personal condition. You do not consider 
it in the cause which rendered it necessary, and in the effects 
which flow from it. Above all, the death of Christ is not 
dwelt upon, as in itself the most important and influential 
part of his undertaking for us — indeed that part without 
which all the rest would have been of no avail to make our 
peace with God. Hence it is, that sin is esteemed so slight 
and trivial a thing, that the wrath of God, revealed from 
heaven against it, is sported with, and the only means of 
escape neglected. 

But, my dear hearers, what can give to sinners so con- 
vincing a proof of the deadly nature of sin as the death of 
Christ? What can manifest so conclusively, God's infinite 
hatred of it, as the humiliation and sufferings of his only be- 
gotten Sox, endured for us? What can enable man to realize 
the terrors of the Lord, equal to the consideration of that 



294 THE OBLIGATION TO PARTAKE OF THE LORD'S SUPPER. 

agony, whose overwhelming pressure drew from God and 
man, united in one person, the sweat of blood, abandoned 
him to the malice of men and devils, and to the cruel and 
lingering torments of the cross? Was it for a slight cause, 
think ye, that the love of God, and the power of God, and 
the wisdom of God, combined in one high counsel for the 
salvation of sinners, saw this, the fittest method to fulfil his 
gracious purpose towards mankind? Alas! how we trifle 
with eternal death, within reach of the tree of life. How we 
labor to stifle the convictions of God's Holy Spirit, the bet- 
ter reason of our own minds, and the better feelings of our 
fallen nature! How do we assent, and then retract, and 
yield, and then put off, and melt and give way, and then 
harden and lock up the heart; but, like a door turning upon 
its hinges, still remain in the same place! Yea, how many, 
when driven from all their subterfuges bv the voice of divine 
truth, rather than surrender to the call of Christ, take shel- 
ter in unbelief, and sit down contented without God in the 
world. 

Look around yon, my friends, and inquire, on which side 
of this awful controversy betwixt God and the world do you 
stand? On which side stand the men of name and note 
amongst us- — those to whom God hath given wisdom and 
understanding, and riches, and honor, and influence, among* 
their fellows — men who ought to know, because they have 
the means and the leisure, and who do know, because they 
have heard God's message of warning and mercy to his crea- 
tures? What sense do they in general manifest of the death 
of Christ? Are they in the number of those who thankfully 
show it forth as their one only hope for hereafter? Alas, for 
the truth — the cruel heart-rending truth — "that not many 
wise, not many noble, not many mighty are called, because 
they close their ears, and harden their hearts, lest at any 
time they should be converted, and I should heal them," says 
the Saviour. 

And for what do they thus sport with destruction, and 
choose death, in the error of their life? For the love of that 
which brought the Son of God, like a criminal, to the cross — 
for a little more of that world, which with themselves is 
hasting to vanish away — for an increase of that superfluity 



THE OBLIGATION TO PARTAKE OF THE LORD'S SUPPER. 295 

which already weighs them down with anxious days and 
wakeful nights, shutting out God from their thoughts, or at 
best postponing the chief good to some distant and uncertain 
period — for the follies and vanities of the day — for the revel- 
lings and banquetings, upon which God's portion for the 
widow and fatherless, the poor and the needy, the suffering 
and the distressed, the ignorant and the vicious, is squander- 
ed. Oh! did they but think — could they but realize, the 
account that is to be given in for example, how many lost 
souls will be charged to their contempt and neglect of the 
great sacrifice for sin made upon the cross, to their disregard 
of the heart-cheering hope given to a lost world, by the resur- 
rection of Christ — but alas! it is hid from them. Their foolish 
heart is darkened — the god of this world hath blinded their 
minds — they will not come to the light — and even at this 
moment, when conscience is awakened, and the understand- 
ing is convinced, and fear is alarmed, and pride perhaps 
offended, some surrender of the world is anticipated, which 
gives them all to the winds. 

But for your souls' sake, for Christ's sake, bethink you. If 
this provision of mercy and grace for sinners is rejected, is 
there another ground of hope for hereafter? "Was sin thus 
visited upon him who knew no sin, that we might continue 
in sin? Is the pardon of the penitent no otherwise possible 
than through the death of Christ, believed in and relied upon 
for the expiation of its guilt? Must the effect of that death 
be manifested in us by a holy and religious life, as the only 
evidence which God will accept, that we believe the testi- 
mony he hath given to his Son, as the only name under heaven 
whereby we must be saved? Owe we any thing to the love 
of Christ dying for us? is there any gratitude due for so high 
a favor freely bestowed upon us? is there any force in the 
dying request of our best friend? What say our fallen cor- 
rupt hearts, under the searching application of such inquiries 
as these? My dear hearers, how then shall those look their 
Saviour in the face, in the great day of eternity, who have 
here, in the time of mercy, made light of these high claims 
upon them, who have never manifested any sense of the im- 
portance of his death for them individually, who are unknown 
as his disciples, and have never showed forth before the 



296 THE OBLIGATION TO PARTAKE OF THE LORD'S SUPPER. 

world, their faith in his atoning blood by partaking of the 
elements which represent and convey the benefits of his death 
to believers? O when they look on him whom they have 
pierced by their sins, and by their sinful neglect of the gos- 
pel, what will be the emotions of their despairing souls — 
whither shall they flee from the wrath of the lamb? "When 
they hear the awful, and, as to them, literally true words, 
"I never knew } t ou" — I cannot save you — the time is past — 
what compensation will the world then prove in exchange 
for their souls? Alas, it is consuming under their feet, and 
all its glory reduced to a cinder. 

But, thanks be to God, there is yet given to us by his 
mercy, a little precious though uncertain hour, in which, 
through the intercession of this same Jesus, repentance may 
undo past neglect, and a new life give proof of faith un- 
feigned — in which preparation may be made for a happy 
eternity, and God be glorified by your professed subjection 
to the gospel. And shall it pass unheeded, unimproved, my 
friends, all given to the world and no part reserved for God? 
God forbid! u awake then, thou that sleepest, and arise from 
the dead, and Christ shall give thee light." Come to Him 
who hath died for thee, and will by no means cast thee out. 
And let it dwell upon your hearts, my brethren and hearers, 
that "now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation." 

May God bless his truth to all present; and to his holy 
name, in Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, be glory and praise, 
n<>w and forever. 



SEEMON Y. 



COMMUNION OF SAINTS. 



1 Corinthians, x. 17. 

"For we being many, are one bread and one body; for we are all par- 
takers of that one bread." 

The Communion of Saints is an article of the faith we pro- 
fess, my brethren, and one of those primary and fundamental 
doctrines which are embodied in that form of sound words 
called the Apostles' Creed. It is one which we declare our 
belief of in the daily service of the Church, and respecting 
which we ought not to be ignorant. Yet it is to be feared, 
that the acknowledgment of the doctrine, is too often made 
without any very clear or precise import of its meaning, or 
right sense of the obligations growing out of it. In its ap- 
plication, nevertheless, equally with all the other doctrines- 
of our religion, it is intended for the comfort and edification 
of the body of Christ, for the perfecting of the saints, and 
for the advancement of the gospel in the world, by the exer- 
cise of that mutual love among Christians which is involved 
in this communion or fellowship. 

To consider and apply this doctrine, therefore, will be a 
suitable improvement, I trust, of the present occasion, when 
we are met together to manifest our fellowship in the one 
faith and hope of the gospel, and mutually to refresh each 
other, and be refreshed, in the participation of that one bread*,, 
in and by which we are constituted one body, though many 
members. For the religion of the gospel, my brethren, is a 
social principle, looking for and affording mutual assistance, 
consolation, and joy, to those who embrace it, in our present 
pilgrimage, and expecting the full measure of its enjoyment 
and reward, in that perfect communion and fellowship (if the 
just, which shall be before the throne of God and the Lamb r 
for ever; — where trial shall be ended, where no imperfection 
shall be found, where all tears shall be wiped from our eyes,. 



298 COMMUNION OF SAINTS. 

and where increase of bliss shall occupy the sublimed and 
exalted faculties of glorified spirits. 

For your edification herein, therefore, my brethren, I shall, 
in the 

First place, endeavor to explain the meaning of that com- 
munion or fellowship, which is referred to in the text, in the 
words, "we are one bread and one body." 

Secondly, I shall consider the origin and nature of the 
principle, in which that commuion or fellowship consists. 

Thirdly, I will show you the nature and extent of those 
duties which grow out of the participation of this one, estab- 
lished, symbol of union among the disciples of Christ through- 
out the world, and, then, 

Conclude, with an improvement of the subject. 

"For we, being many, are one bread and one body; for we 
are all partakers of that one bread." 

I. First, I am to explain the meaning of that communion 
or fellowship which is referred to in the text, in the words, 
"we are one bread and one body." 

The original word translated communion, in this passage, 
and so frequently made use of by this apostle, varies in its 
meaning according to the nature of that which it is used to 
express. 

"When the thing or subject referred to may be divided into 
parts, and distributed among many, so that each may have 
a share, it then means the communication and participation 
thereof, to and by the community or body. 

Thus in the case of alms-giving or relief to the poor, as 
this is a distribution of a part of our substance to the neces- 
sities of others, and a religious duty; it is expressed in the 
original by the same word, because it is a communication of 
good to, and a participation of relief by, them. 

The same word is also applied to the gifts of the Holy 
Spirit. As there are diversities of gifts, differences of ad- 
ministrations, and diversities of operations, yet all divided to 
man by the same Spirit; the bestowing these gifts and opera- 
tions, and the use and improvement of them by men, is styled 
by this apostle the communion of the Spirit. And because 
one consecrated loaf of bread and cup of wine were orignally 
distributed in the Church, as memorials of Christ's death, 



COMMUNION OF SAINTS. 299 

and of the benefits derived to men thereby; therefore, the 
participation of those emblems in the eucharist, by his dis- 
ciples, is styled the communion of the body and blood of 
Christ: that is, the joint participation of those emblems 
which represent his body broken, and blood shed upon the 
cross, for the salvation of sinners; and the joint acknowledg- 
ment of those partaking of them, that they depend only on 
the efficacy of this sacrifice, for pardon, grace, and everlast- 
ing life. 

When, however, the thing or subject in question is inca- 
pable of division or partial distribution, but each one must 
have the whole; the word then means a fellowship or joint 
participation in the same thing. In this sense, Christians 
are said to be called by God, to the fellowship .of his Son — 
to have a fellowship in his sufferings, in his death, in his re- 
surrection, and in his glory — to be heirs together of the grace 
of life, heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; and thus 
St. John expresses it where he says, "and truly, our fellow- 
ship or communion is with the Father and with the Son." 
In like manner, my brethren, the communication and joint 
participation of all good things in the Church militant, in 
connexion with those who by the same means have joined 
the Church triumphant, is what is meant by our professing 
to believe, as it is expressed in the creed, in the communion 
of saints. 

The doctrine, therefore, referred to in my text, in the words 
"we are one bread and one body," will mean this: that by 
our joint participation of the established symbols of Christ's 
death in the eucharist, we do in effect declare our union with 
Christ in his death, our trust and dependence on this his 
sacrifice and atonement, for satisfaction to the divine justice 
— our hope to be also partakers of his resurrection, and our 
union and fellowship one with another, and with all who 
have departed this life in the faith and hope of the gospel. 
That as there is one body or Church of Christ — one Lord or 
head over that Church — one faith possessed in it — one bap- 
tism, or door of entrance, to its privileges — one hope of our 
calling in it, and one authority for the administration of the 
sacraments in it; so is there also, but one bond of love and 
union, and one channel of grace, from one everliving source 



300 COMMUNION OF SAINTS. 

of spiritual nourishment, growth and life, to the disciples of 
Christ throughout the world. 

Hence it is said in this chapter, of the Church in the wil- 
derness, "that they did all eat of the same spiritual meat, and 
did all drink of the same spiritual drink, for they drank of 
that spiritual rock that followed them, and that rock was 
Christ." Hence the doctrine in my text, that all the true 
disciples of Christ are one bread and one body, that is, one 
body or society, because they partake of that one bread, 
which by virtue of its consecrated character represents Jescts 
Christ and him crucified, and confers on the worthy receiver 
the inestimable benefits purchased by the passion and death 
of the Son of God. Xot separate assemblies of worshipping 
people, differing in name, in authority, in form of worship, 
and in received doctrine; but one extended Society of believ- 
ers in Christ — professing the same faith — fed by the same 
spiritual food and drink — consecrated and administered by 
the one authority of the head of the body, and as an incon- 
testible evidence thereof, "continuing steadfast in the apos- 
tles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and 
in prayers." 

This, my brethren and hearers, was the root of unity to the 
first Christians, the ground of their assurance in working out 
their eternal salvation. "They were built upon the founda- 
tion of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being 
the chief corner stone. From whom the whole body, fitly 
joined together and compacted by that which every joint 
supplieth, according to the effectual working of the measure 
of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying 
of itself in love" — and it will be of the same vital efficac}^ to 
us also, if we entertain the same sense of the spirit, and ob- 
ligation, and purpose, of this appointment of the wisdom of 
God, and bear ever in mind, that in the great concerns of re- 
ligion, "other foundation can no man lay, than that is laid, 
which is Jesus Christ." 

II. Secondly, I am to consider the origin and nature of the 
principle in which that communion or fellowship consists. 

In the undertaking of Jesus Christ for a lost world, there 
was a double purpose to be answered, my brethren and hear- 
ers. First, to reconcile a justly offended God to the world of 



COMMUNION OF SAINTS. 301 

his creatures, and secondly, to unite men to each other, and 
all to God, in the living bond of brotherly love. 

Of the first, the gospel is the authentic declaration to the 
world, that Christ, by the suffering of the crossf having made 
the required satisfaction to the justice of Gao, for the sins of 
mankind, a door of mercy is thereby opened, and a day of 
grace and repentance granted, to every* sinner of the race 
of Adam. Hence we read "that GoD^was in Christ, recon- 
ciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses 
unto them." And hence Christ is said to have "made peace 
by the blood of his cross, and of twain one new man." And 
this not only between heaven and earth — between Jew and 
Gentile, but between all who embrace his doctrine, and im- 
bibe his Spirit, as the only certain and allowable evidence, 
that the religion he came to establish in the world is so re- 
ceived as to bring forth its proper fruits. — "By this shall all 
men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to 
another." 

Of this, the second object of his undertaking for sinners, 
all the institutions of the gospel, and the very foundation of 
gospel hope, are v so constructed as not only to bear witness 
of the fact, but to f produce it in the heart. The love of God, 
manifested towards Iiis enemies in the gift of his only begot- 
ten Son, to suffer and die — the love of Christ, in consenting 
to be thus made an offering of sin, with the Holy Ghost sent 
down from heaven to renew, and strengthen, and sanctify 
the hearts of sinners — what^my brethren, so calculated to 
soften, and subdue, and engage the affections of rational be- 
ings — to lead them back to God, by turning them round from 
sin, and prepare them for that everlasting reward revealed 
to their faith through the Redeemers merits? And this is 
the very message of the gospel, the glad tidings which have 
come from heaven to every one of us, without exception. 
This is that message of mercy which I am commissioned, as 
an ambassador for Christ, to proclaim to every one of you, 
and to pray you in Christ's steacl, as though God did beseech 
you by us — Be ye reconciled to God. And O \a£you could 
be prevailed upon to hear it, and lay it to heart: 

And when this purpose is answered, when the gospel is 
embraced, when its law rules the life, when its hope fills the 



302 COMMUNION OF SAINTS. 

heart, when the breadth, and length, and depth, and height, 
of God's rich redeeming love, expands all the affections, and 
enlarges them to feekthat "if God so loved us, we ought also 
to love one another" — what more uniting principle can be 
thought of, my brethren, to knit together in one, those who 
are partakers of this grace — especially when assembled round 
the table of our common Lord, our hearts filled with all 
those emotions which a deep sense of our own un worthiness, 
and of God's unspeakable mercy draw forth, we partake to- 
gether of that one bread, which represents our Redeemer 
laying down his life for us — our sins thereby forgiven, and 
all other benefits of his passion conferred on the faithful in 
this sacrament. "When we thus manifest to the world, my 
brethren, that this is our hope, even Jesus Christ and him 
crucified for us, what more appropriate appellation can be 
given to this holy union of a common benefit, and a common 
hope, than the communion of saints? And what more pow-^ 
eri'ul obligation to cherish and strengthen the cords of Chris- 
tian love, can be laid upon believers, than to be thus as- 
sured "that they are no more strangers and foreigners, but 
fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God." 
The origin of the principle, therefore, in which this com- 
munion or fellowship consists, must be referred to what is 
the foundation of the Christian character in fallen man — the 
communication of the Spirit of God, renewing the heart, and 
transforming us in the spirit of our minds. Until this change is 
wrought in us by the power of the Spirit of God, there is no 
room for any thing of a divine or heavenly nature to dwell in. 
Constitutional good temper, compassionate disposition, or ju- 
dicious education, may produce the semblance of a gracious 
state, but it is only the semblance; and thousands are de- 
luded thereby to think well of their state, while at the same 
time there is nothing of love to God, no sense of obligation 
to Christ, no constraining power of the spirit of the gospel, 
pervading the whole course of their conduct. Yet, my dear 
hearers, we know, beyond all dispute, even by the reason of 
our own mhads, confirmed by the word of God, that if a cor- 
rupt tree is ever to bring forth good fruit, the tree itself must 
previously be made good. Even so must it be with fallen 
man. By nature, he is a corrupt tree. By grace only can 



COMMUNION OF SAINTS. 303 

the tree be made good. And without this mighty 'change 
wrought in us, there can be no fellowship with God, with his 
Son, or with the children of God, because there is nothing 
common to both — nothing in which they are mutually inte- 
rested — no near and dear sense of the love of God in Christ, 
shed abroad in the heart, and drawing out their soul in love 
and good will to all men, especially to them who are of the 
household of faith. 

O who is athirst for this blessed privilege, who is desirous 
to burst the bonds of unbelief, to break the chains of sin, to 
yield to the sceptre of divine love, and experience the trans- 
forming power of divine grace? Let him turn to the gospel, 
that he may learn his want, and find the remedy. There let 
him see that Jesus, who loved us, and gave himself lor us, 
and redeemed us to God by his own blood, and learn of him, 
and he shall find rest to his soul — rest from the power of sin 
— rest from the fear that hath torment — and "rest with us 
when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven, with his 
mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them 
that know not God, and obey not the gospel of our Lord 
Jesus Christ." 

III. Thirdly, I am to show you the nature and extent of 
those duties which grow out of the participation of this one 
established symbol of union, among the disciples of Christ 
throughout the world. 

The duties of the professing Christian may fitly be con- 
sidered as general and special; but in neither case are they 
increased in number by coming forward to this sacrament, 
the effect of this ordinance being to enforce the obligation of 
existing duties, and to increase the diligence and earnestness, 
wherewith we apply ourselves to the performance of them; 
while at the same time we are furnished in it, when worthily 
received, with grace or spiritual help, equal to all that is re- 
quired at our hands, of Christian duty. 

The general duties of the Christian grow out of his relation 
to the Church, as a member of the visible body of Christ, 
and comprise whatever can contribute to the honor and in- 
crease of the body — to the spread of the gospel, to the pro- 
moting the influence of true religion in all around him, and 
through these to the advancement of the glory of God. To 



304: COMMUNION OF SHUNTS. 

the serious Christian, adoption into the faoiily of Chkist is 
indeed a new relation; all whose obligations and privileges 
are carefully considered, and faithfully observed. They re- 
fer, therefore, to his public and visible conduct in the com- 
mon affairs of life, all of which is regulated by the presiding 
principle which he professes. Seeking first the kingdom of 
God and his righteousness, the world, in its business and in 
its pleasure, is made subservient to this great end — no un- 
lawful conformity with its sinful courses is submitted to; but 
it is so used as not abusing it. Called to an incorruptible 
inheritance, he labors to make his calling and election sure. 
Having openly professed himself a disciple of Christ, he is 
watchful to bring no reproach upon the gospel, but rather, to 
adorn the doctrine of God his Saviour, in all things. He is, 
therefore, constant and regular in his attendance on the pub- 
lic ministrations of religion. His heart is with it. lie enjoys 
it, and his enjoyments increase with his diligence and faith- 
fulness, lie is forward to provide the established means of 
grace for others, and, according to his ability, is ready and 
willing to distribute to the spiritual, as well as to the tempo- 
ral, necessities of his brethren. Having well considered the 
grounds of his public stand in religion, he is steadfast to his 
principles — there is no indifference towards that on which he 
iias staked his eternal interests, nor is there any uncharita- 
bleness towards those who have chosen a different way. Be- 
ing ready himself to render a reason of the hope he enter- 
tains, he follows peace with all men — hut he is not, therefore, 
carried about with divers and strange doctrines — nor yet de- 
luded with the impossible attempt to reconcile truth and 
error, order and confusion. This course may, indeed, bring 
upon him the reproach of foolish men, but ic insures him the 
approbation of his own conscience — and that alone can bring 
a man peace at the last. 

The special duties of the Christian grow out of his relation 
to God, as redeemed bv the blood of Christ — made a child 
of God by adoption and grace, and bound, by the baptismal 
covenant, to the improvement of all his talents. 

These, therefore, include the private, personal religion of 
the man — the things which are transacted between God and 
himself alone, as well as those which are not of a directly 



COMMUNION OF SAINTS. 305 

public nature — and here it is that the sincerity and truth of 
Christian profession are manifested. If the fear and the love 
of God lead us to our closets, and intercourse with heaven, 
in prayer and meditation, lift our hearts above the world, he 
that seeth in secret stands engaged in our behalf, and the 
grace of his Holy Spirit is supplied for our strength and 
guidance in all required duty; and as the duties of religion 
are mixed up with the common duties of our several stations 
in life, the private exercises of religion best prepare us to ful- 
fil our Christian calling. 

Of those special duties which are not of a directly public 
nature, the most important is that which the Christian owes 
to his family. As that is first in his affections, there is he 
allowed and required to. manifest the full fervor both of na- 
tural love and religious affection. His exertions for their 
temporal comfort are religious duties. "If any provide not 
for his own, specially they of his own house, he hath denied 
the faith, and is woyse than an infidel." How much more 
strongly, then, will this condemnation apply to those parents 
who neglect the spiritual concerns of their families? And 
would to God that professing parents could be made to see 
and to feel how solemnly they are bound to this duty — how 
inseparably it is united Avith their own claim to the name of 
Christian — how fatally they deceive themselves, if they hope 
to work out their own salvation, while that of those who are 
bone of their bone and flesh of their flesh, is neglected. With 
me this neglect is decisive, that in those to whom it applies, 
either absolutely or in a cold and careless attention to the 
duty, the religious principle is not present, is not yet formed 
— there is some delusion at the bottom — some fatal deceit, 
crying peace where there is no peace. For, independent of 
natural affection — independent of the solemn stipulations 
entered into at their baptism — the spirit of religion, where it 
occupies the heart, delights in nothing so much as in com- 
munications to others, and yearns, in a maimer inexpressible, 
to find those who are dear to us, united in the same bond of 
love, and partakers of the same blessed hope. 

Of the same obligation, though lower in degree, are the 
claims of relationship and kindred upon the Christian; and 
it is to the praise of the gospel, and a strong proof of its di- . 
[Vol. 1,— *20.] 



306 COMMOTION OF SAINTS. 

vine original, that its duties and its enjoyments are all con- 
nected with, and bound up in, the natural affections of our 
condition. Its commandment is benevolence; its law is love; 
love, commencing in the dear relations of family union, em- 
bracing the connexion of kindred, and brandling out to 
friends, country and kind, and rendered still more sacred by 
the holy hope, that though broken and interrupted here,, 
they will again be revived, where no separation shall be per- 
mitted to break in upon their enjoyment. 

But, my brethren, if the common relations of life have the 
duties belonging to them enforced by the sanctions of reli- 
gion, much more are those which spring from fellowship in 
the one faith and hope of the gospel, imprinted with the sa- 
cred character of that holy relation — "ye are one body, for 
ye are all partakers of that one bread." The mutual love, 
comfort, help, and countenance, which we owe to each other 
in the common relations of life, are sanctified to a holier ob- 
ligation by our mutual relation to Christ. 

In this view they overstep the boundaries of time, and 
branch out into that unseen world, of which faith is the evi- 
dence. They are the commencement, here, in an imperfect 
degree, of that course of love and good will, of that compla- 
cency and delight, which will be perpetuated in eternity. 
But it must be begun here, if we would enjoy it there; for 
just as sure 'a* we entertain any hostile, malevolent, unmer- 
ciful or unforgiving tempers towards our brethren here, so 
sure may we be, that the spirit of love and joy and peace 
which presides in heaven, will reject us from that blessed 
abode of pure and perfect happiness. 

Let us learn then, my brethren and hearers, that the reli- 
gion of the gospel takes nothing from, but adds to the enjoy- 
ments of this life; that the obligations we come under by em- 
bracing the gospel, are not a hard and grievous, but a light 
and easy burden, growing more and more pleasurable, as we 
experience more and more of its gracious effect upon our 
hearts; and that the duties of religion are all calculated, by 
infinite wisdom, to increase the sum of human hapj3iness in 
time, and to perpetuate it in eternity. 

Under these obligations you come, my Christian brethren, 
by partaking of that one bread; and may the knowledge of 



COMMUNION OF SAINTS. 30 T 

your duty be followed by a faithful and fruitful performance 
of it. Your Redeemer speaks to you in this ordinance, in the 
moving and affectionate language of one who manifested his 
lore by laying down his life for your souls, "be ye kind one 
to another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, even as 
God for Christ's sake, hath forgiven you." He speaks to you 
in this ordinance of that mystical bond, by which you are 
constituted one body with him, and with the blessed compa- 
ny of all faithful people; and through the humiliation of his 
death, he would lift your faith to the communion of saints 
and angels at the marriage supper of- the Lamb, where sin 
and sorrow, pain and death, shall be forever banished from 
the paradise of God. 

I come now to make a short application of the subject. 

The knowledge of our duty, my brethren, is one thing — 
the performance of it another; and we are too often disposed 
to rest contented with the knowledge, while we leave the 
duty undone. 

To a Christian congregation, all that I have said ought to 
be familiar, and where this is the case, the only advantage 
will be the refreshing your memories • with admitted truths. 
But to profit you, my brethren, the truth must be brought 
to bear upon your consciences. How is it with you then, 
in the application of this subject? Is that holy principle of 
love and union, which animates the mystical body of Christ, 
alive and active in your hearts? Is it manifested in com- 
passion and relief to. the suffering members of Christ? Is it 
drawn out in prayer for the prosperity of the Church, and 
followed by exertions, according to ability, for the advance- 
ment of Christ's kino-dom? Is it exercised with zeal and 
diligence, for the eternal interests of your family? Do y<m 
long and even agonize that they may be added to the com- 
munion of saints, and increase your hope and your thankful- 
ness, in the dear expectation of meeting them at the right 
hand of God? Or are your children permitted to grow up, 
like the wild ass's colt, untutored in the knowledge of God, 
of themselves, and of the Lord Jesus Christ, though carefully 
furnished for the course of this present evil world? And is 
there not to many of you, my brethren, a nearer interest 
still, in some dear husband or wife, who are strangers yet to 



SOS COMMUNION OF SAINTS. 

the hope of the gospel, for whom, the deep, continued, and! 
fervent supplication, besieges the throne of grace, and wres- 
ties with God for the blessing? O, ask yourselves these ques- 
tions, dear brethren, and thence jndge in what degree the 
spirit of Christian love is abiding in your hearts; that true 
and genuine heavenly temper which cultivates good will to 
all, in the faithful exercise of Christian duty to its own. This 
is the order which heaven has appointed, which heaven has 
promised to bless, which alone is practical to us. It is the 
only practical rule also, in the exercise of Christian charity, 
in a divided Christian world. To pretend to more is to de- 
ceive ourselves, and to put words for things; is to promote 
indifference instead of love, and to neutralize the just and 
commanding claims of revealed religion and instituted means 
of grace; is to make this blessed sacrament, my brethren, a 
mere ceremony, and not an effectual means of heaven's grace 
to our souls. 

Draw near, then, with true hearts, in full assurance of 
faith, in the exercise of that forgiveness which mercy expe- 
rienced calls fur; in the exercise of that penitence which a 
sense of many sins and short comings must beget in your 
hearts; in the exercise of that lively faith which springs from 
this manifestation of God's truth and love, in the fulfilment 
of his gracious promises;, in the exercise of that hope which: 
springs from the resurrection of Christ; in the exercise of 
that charity which includes all for whom Chkist died; and 
in earnest prayer that lie who died for all, would be pleased 
to bless and sanctify this memorial of his passion and death,, 
to the spiritual nourishment of your souls, to the increase of 
his love in your hearts, and to the advancement of his glory 
in the world; especially, that he would be gracious to those 
over whom your hearts yearn, until Chkist be formed in 
them — "That the eyes of their understanding being enlight- 
ened, they may know what is the hope of his calling, and 
what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,, 
and what the exceeding greatness of his power to us ward, 
who believe." 

"Now, our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our 
Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting 
consolation and good hope, through grace, comfort your 
hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work." Amen. 






SERMON VI. 



CINITY OF THE CHUKCH-. 



Ephesian^ iv. 4. 
"There is one body." 

It has come to pass, my brethren, and hearers, from causes 
neither very remote from observation, nor difficult to be in* 
vestigated, that what was once of the highest importance to 
the comfort and assurance of a Christian in the great concern 
<of eternity, is now, throughout a very extended portion of 
the Christian world, lost sight of and rejected, as an article 
of the faith once delivered to the saints; and considered in 
those who entertain it, as the mark of an illiberal, uncharp 
table, and bigoted spirit. I mean the doctrine of the unity 
of the Church of Christ, and its use or purpose in the mighty 
and merciful work of bringing sinners to salvation, and pre* 
paring them for eternal glory. 

That it is a prominent doctrine, however, one which we 
profess to receive as the unerring and unchangeable word of 
God, can be denied only by those who are under the domin- 
ion of ignorance or prejudices The words of my text, in 
connexion with the context, even were there no parallel pas- 
sages of Scripture, being sufficient of themselves to awaken 
and excite our attention to the subject — for in all that is re- 
vealed our benefit is intended — -and it is our duty to search 
it out, "that we may know what is that acceptable and per* 
feet will of God concerning us," and apply ourselves thereto 
with all the earnestness and exactness of minds truly en- 
gaged in working out their everlasting salvation with fear 
and trembling. 

That edification on this point of Christian doctrine is much 
wanted, unhappily requires no other proof than the divided 
state of the Christian community; for it is never to be pre- 
sumed, that persons seriously concerned for the salvation of 
their souls would knowingly reject what the Scriptures plainly 



310 



UNITY OF THE CHUECH. 



teach, and be led away from the appointments of God, into 
new and unknown paths of error and division,, after inven- 
tions of men who speak without, knowledge, and act without 
warrant. 

On the present occasion then, when the thoughts are natu- 
rally drawn to the subject by the erection and opening of a 
building, to be set apart to the service of Almighty God, as 
a branch of that holy apostolic Church which claims and 
possesses a regular episcopal succession from the apostles of 
our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, as her warrant for ad-' 
ministei'ing the affairs of his kingdom upon earth, and for 
dispensing the word and sacraments of salvation to his mem- 
bers; I trust it may be allowed to one of her ministers, accord- 
ing to his poor ability, for the edification of all present, and 
for the comfort and assurance of those- into whose hearts God 
hath put it to build an house to his name, to lay before yon 
what the Scriptures teach us on this much neglected subject 
of Christian obligation; and to draw from the doctrine those 
conclusions which are fairly and reasonably to be deduced 
from them. I say fairly and reasonably, for this doctrine, 
like every other in the religion of Jesus Christ, addresses it- 
self to our understanding, to our interest, and through these 
to our affections, and only when thus received and applied, 
can be- productive of any benefit to our souls. With all 
the other doctrines too, this is capable of being perverted and 
abused, and even corrupted, to suit the particular views of 
designing men, though we are plainly warned that thus to 
wrest the Scriptures is to ensure our own destruction. 

In discoursing, therefore, on this subject, I shall, in the 

First place, lay before you those passages of Scripture 
which declare the unity of the Church of Christ. 

Skcondly, I shall endeavor to show you in what that unity 
consists. 

Thirdly, I shall point out the purpose and design of this 
'appointment of the wisdom of God, in the great work of our 
redemption and salvation; and, then, 

Conclude, with an application of the subject. 

"There is one body." 

I. First, I am to lay before you those passages of Scrips 
ture which declare the unity of the Church of Christ, 



UNITY OF THE CHURCH. 311 

The gracious design of our blessed Lord's coming in the 
flesh, was not merely to declare the will of God, to set an 
example of its performance, and to expiate by his death the 
guilt of sin, and then leave mankind to make what advantage 
they could of the mercy and reconciliation thus procured for 
them; but beyond this, to gather together out of the world, 
those who received him, as St. John expresses it, and by be- 
lieving in him, became entitled to all the benefits of his un- 
dertaking for sinners. Hence he is said to have suffered, 
"that he might gather together in one, the children of God 
scattered abroad." In one, that is, into one uniform visible 
society, actuated by the same spirit, professing the same faith, 
entertaining the same hope, joining in the same worship, and 
participating in the same spiritual food for the nourishment 
of their souls, in the administration of the same word and 
sacraments in the Church, by the stewards of these his 
mysteries. 

In agreement with this view of the subject, the Scriptures 
inform us, that he came "to purchase to himself a peculiar 
people, zealous of good works;" that "he purchased a Church 
with his own blood;" that this Church so purchased, is his 
body — his spouse — the bride the Lamb's wife — and that 
Christ is the head of the body — the Church. In which we 
must observe that the expressions, the Church, his body, are 
in the singular number, and denote unity in the simplest ac- 
ceptation of the word. While the figurative descriptions 
made use of, such as spouse, bride, wife, confirm this unity, 
by associations not to be mistaken. But it is from the pas- 
sage of which my text forms a part, that we derive the strong- 
est confirmation, and clearest illustration, of this doctrine. 

"There is one body, and one spirit, even as ye are called 
in one hope of your calling — one Lord, one faith, one bap- 
tism — one God and Father of all, who is above all, and 
through all, and in you all." In which passage of Scripture 
it is impossible, I think, not to be struck with the important 
part here ascribed to the Church, as a visible body, in the 
work of our salvation; not to perceive, that it is in no shape 
or sense the creature of human contrivance, or allowably sub- 
ject to the alteration or amendment, if it must be so called, 
either of assumed necessity, or presuming wisdom. 



312 UNITY OF THE CHUKCH. 

In other places of Scripture, this body or Church of Christ 
is represented as a family, of which God is the Father, and 
Jesus Christ the elder brother, and first-born from the dead; 
and in which all the members of this family, in their several 
stations, are followers of God as dear children, walking in 
the steps of that holy example which Christ, their elder 
brother, hath set them. 

It is designated as a household, in which Christ rules, as 
a son in his own house, every inhabitant deriving from him 
his daily supply, and rendering those services which are con- 
sidered by the householder most beneficial to the general 
good — in which he appoints what each shall be occupied 
about, and wherein none can be lawfully employed but by 
his direction. It is spoken of as a city of which Jerusalem 
was the type, in which all rule and authority was derived 
from the appointment of the great king, in which only the 
true w< »rship < »f the true God was maintained, and which is rep- 
resented as builded compact together, and at unity in itself. 

It is set forth as a kingdom, of which the Lokd Jesus 
Christ, the king of saints and angels, is the Almighty Sove- 
reign and gracious Euler, from whom all power is derived, 
and to whom all power in heaven and upon earth is com- 
mitted. 

Under all these names and allusions, the Church of Christ 
is spoken of in Scripture, my hearers, and must necessarily 
be assimilated, in its order and government, to what is 
essential to the well being of each and all of those figures, by 
which it is represented for our easier and better comprehen- 
sion. As a family and household, it must not be divided 
against itself, lest it come to nought. As a city and kingdom 
it must be under the rule and government of its proper 
officers, all deriving their authority from the king himself. 
Nothing short of this can entitle it to be considered as an 
orderly and regular society, commanding respect and confi- 
dence, and conferring those benefits with which it is furnished 
by its living Head. 

This distinctive character of the Church of Christ is con- 
firmed and enforced, by the unity which is constantly attri- 
buted to those who are members of it here in its visible state. 
They are every where in Scripture spoken of as one, in the 



UNITY OF THE CHUKCH. 313 

strongest manner in which nnity can be expressed. Speaking 
of Christians collectively, St. Panl says, "There is neither 
Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither 
male nor female — for ye are all one in Christ Jesus." And 
the same apostle, writing to the . Corinthian Church on the 
subject of their divisions and improper intercourse with 
Heathens and idolaters, tells them as an argument for union, 
"Now ye are the body of Christ and members in particular; 
for as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the 
members of that one body, being many, are one body, so 
also is Christ, for by one Spirit are we all baptized into 
one body." And this argument from the unity of that one 
sacrament, by which alone we can be received into his mys- 
tical body, and are made "members of his body, of his flesh, 
and of his bones," as St. Paul strongly expresses it, he carries 
forward to our joint participation of the eucharist, as a still 
more conclusive demonstration of the unity of the body and 
the members. "The cup of blessing which we bless," says 
St. Paul, "is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? 
The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the 
body of Christ? For we being many, are one bread and 
one body, for we are all partakers of that one bread." 

Thus clear, plain, and express, my brethren, is the warrant 
of Scripture for the unity of the Church of Christ — a unity 
not limited by time or place, but co-existing and co-extensive 
with the gospel — a unity which includes the Church trium- 
phant as well as the Church militant, and from which we 
cannot separate or disjoin ourselves, without incurring the 
heinous guilt of rending the body of Christ, and doing what 
in us lies, to make void that affectionate prayer with which 
our blessed Lord concludes his ministry upon earth — "Holy 
Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast 
given me, that they all may be one, as thou Father art in 
me, and I in thee; that they also may be one in us." 

A principle so important, as to occupy the wishes, and 
prayers of the author and finisher of our faith, at the very 
moment when the powers of darkness had taken possession 
of the hour allotted them, in which to prevail against his 
life, cannot surely be safely disregarded by us, my friends. 
I shall, therefore, 



314 UNITY OF THE CHURCH. 

II. Secondly, endeavor to show you in what this unity 
consists. 

To determine this satisfactorily, we have to consider two 
things — First, what it was in the preaching of the apostles, 
that presented itself with unvarying uniformity, to the eyes 
and to the understandings of all descriptions of persons; — 
and, Secondly, what it is that, to the present moment, gives 
to the word and sacraments of the visible Church, the same 
character and efficacy in the most remote parts of the evan- 
gelized world. 

As respects the first point, there cannot be a question that 
this was the divine authority, with which, as ambassadors of 
Christ, they were clothed, to confirm the truth of the doc- 
trines they taught, and to ratify the conditions on which its 
sanctions were proposed to the acceptance or rejection of a 
rebel world. 

To demonstrate this, let us reflect, my brethren, that in 
things which are not the objects of sense, and respecting 
which we can have no experience, such us those which are 
the subject matter of revelation, the authority of God, mani- 
fested in s<»me way to our senses, is the only safe foundation 
either of faith or practice. The obligation we are under to 
receive it, depends upon tins single circumstance, and not 
upr»n the reasonableness, fitness, and importance of the things 
themselves; that is a subsequent consideration, and derives 
its weight altogether from the prior authority of him, by 
whom, or in whose name, it is proposed. Just as in the 
matter of the law of the land, it is not the justness, or expe- 
diency, or policy of the law, which gives it its force and 
obligation, but the legitimate authority by which it is enacted. 
These, indeed, increase the obligation all are under to obey 
tin- law, and perform the duty; but they are subsequent, both 
in time and fact, to the authority: nor is that at all affected 
by them; it remains the same, and, when supreme, is inde- 
pendent of the quality of its enactments, as is exemplified in 
the clearest and strongest manner by the revelation we have. 

The miracles wrought by Moses were the conclusive evi- 
dence to the Israelites in Egypt, that God had sent him as 
their deliverer — and to Pharaoh and his subjects, that heaven 
had commanded him to let his people go. Upon the same 



UNITY OF THE CHURCH. 315 

evidence rested the authority of their law given from Mount 
Sinai, and not upon the reasonableness, or fitness, or wisdom, 
of the law itself. By the same evidence did our blessed Lord 
demonstrate to that people that a greater than Moses was 
present with them, and on this ground did he challenge their 
acceptance of him and his doctrine: "If I do not the works 
of my Father, believe me not, but if I do, though ye believe 
not me, believe the works." On this also did he declare; 
that their condemnation rested for rejecting the gospel: "If I 
had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin. 
If I had not done among them the works which none other 
man did, they had not had sin." 

By the same testimony was the glad tidings of the gospel 
by his apostles, evidenced, supported, and established. By 
mighty signs and wonders, and works of the Holy Ghost, 
attendant on the persons and preaching of men of like pas- 
sions with themselves, were tlie words and actions of the 
apostles and first ministers of Christ confirmed as the truth 
of God, and verified to the nations, as "the way, the truth, 
and the life," as it is in Jesus, for the salvation of a lost 
world. And by this, and this only, were all who embraced 
the gospel certified that they were not following cunningly 
devised fables, or led astray by the inward assurance of a 
heated or deceived Imagination, after inventions of men, or 
opinions which seemed good in their own eyes, on the un- 
speakably serious consideration of the loss or salvation of 
their souls. 

And here we cannot help remarking, my friends, with 
what infinite wisdom this first and standing proof of the 
heavenly origin of the gospel is fitted to every capacity. Had 
it been made to depend on strength of understanding, or cul-. 
tivation of mind, it must have varied with the unequal state 
of those qualifications, and could not have possessed that 
unity of character which was, and is yet, essential to its ef- 
fect; while constituted as it is, it cuts off every shadow of 
excuse, and powerfully impels the mind to consider and ap- 
ply what is so highly and incontestably witnessed. 

Of the same nature is the second consideration on this 
point, to-wit: what it is, that, to the present moment, gives- 
to the word and sacraments of the visible Church, the same 



316 UNITY OF THE CHURCH. 

character and efficacy in the most remote parts of the evan- 
gelized world. 

Perhaps, my hearers, many of you may never have asked 
yourselves the question. Perhaps many who profess the 
gospel, may never have considered what their faith and hope 
of its blessings rest upon. Perhaps many who are preachers 
of the gospel have never seriously put to themselves the 
question, "by what authority doest thou these things?" Per- 
haps it inay be considered a contentious rather than a useful 
inquiry, to investigate and ascertain what principle it is, that 
frum India to America, from Iceland to the Cape of Good 
Hope, gives to the ministrations of Christ's religion the sanc- 
tified and savins character affixed to them bv the author and 
finisher of our faith, and to the varied millions of its popula- 
tion, the one hope of their high and heavenly calling. 

And yet, my hearers, if there is a subject on which we 
cannot be too sure, it must be this; if there is a point which 
deserves all the attention we can give to it, it must be that 
which involves our connexion with that one universal Church 
or body of Christ, which has one Lord, one faith, one bap- 
tism. Much may be said o . this subject, my brethren, and 
it deserves the most careful consideration. But the time re- 
quires me to be brief. 

As the Church is but one all over the world, purchased, 
founded, and ordered, by its living head — a vine with but 
one root, though with many branches — as in that Church 
there is but one faith taught and professed, one God to wor- 
ship, one Lord to serve, one Spirit to inhabit and abide, and 
one final reward of eternal life to be obtained, so is there one 
only appointed mode or means for admission to its privile- 
ges, and one communion of saints in it. This being so, there 
can be but one principle, on which all these duties can be 
performed, and all these privileges enjoyed; and it can only 
be found, in the joint participation of the members in the 
word and sacraments, administered' by the one authority of 
the Head. No other principle of unity, for the practical pur- 
poses of a visible Church, can be imagined, which can ope- 
rate alike on every class and description of men; none so rea- 
•dily and certainly verifiable and available to that assurance, 
which is the crown of Christian hope. Which assurance, 



UNITY OF THE CHURCH. 317 

while it is, without any doubt, the witness of the Holt Spir- 
it, can only be relied on when its testimony is in agreement 
with that outward order which the same Spirit has revealed, 
to guide us into all saving truth. To suppose, or to take for 
granted, that the witness of the Holt Spirit in the heart of 
man will be given in favor of any thing in opposition to the 
outward order and authority of the Church as founded by 
Christ, is to suppose that God would contradict himself. 
Consequently to rely upon internal impressions, however 
strong, which are in opposition to, or have no counterpart in 
the written spirit, as I may call it, or word of God, is, to say 
the least, to encourage delusion, and to cast ourselves loose 
from the Church and compass which God has mercifully 
provided for us to steer our course by, through the mixed 
and troubled sea of time, to the secure haven of his presence 
in the boundless ocean of eternity. 

Should we count him a wise or a prudent man, who could 
thus act in any affair of temporal moment, who in any short 
voyage from one port to another, could throw away his chart 
and compass, unship his helm, discharge his pilot, and com- 
mit himself to the great deep, relying on some fancied assu- 
rance in his own mind, or plausible reasoning of others, that 
he would reach his destination securely without them? In 
like manner is he an unwise and imprudent man, who dis- 
cards the more sure word of prophecy, or perverts it to suit 
the impressions o±a disordered and prejudiced imagination^ 
who, instead of considering the word of God as a light shi- 
ning in a dark place, trusts to some rush-light of human rea- 
son, by which he steers from the harbor instead of towards 
it, and is sooner or later stranded on the quicksands of en- 
thusiasm, or wrecked on the rocks of heresy and schism. 

It appearing then, that the unity of the Church of Christ,. 
as a visible society, consists in the profession of the same 
faith, the worship of the same God, the entertainment of the 
same hope, in the communion, fellowship, or joint participa- 
tion of the same word and sacraments, as revealed means of 
grace, by the authority of Jesus Christ, the head of this 
body, and witnessed by the miraculous powers of the Holt 
Ghost, given to his apostles personally for this very end, and 
to the Church to abide with it for ever in his ordinary opera- 



318 UNITY OF THE CIIURCH. 

tions; it follows necessarily, that only as we are united to 
him, in this holy fellowship, can we have any sure and cer- 
tain hope, that the promises of Almighty God, made to his 
Church and people, are ours; for they are made to us by cov- 
enant engagement in the Church, and not elsewhere: they are 
sealed to us in the sacraments of that Church, which can be 
lawfully administered only by the authority of Christ, and 
fulfilled in the attainment of that holiness, which alone can 
fit us for the general assembly and Church of the first-born 
— the Church triumphant in glory. All which I trust to 
make more manifest to you, in what I have to say on the 
next head of my discourse; which was, 

III. Thirdly, to point out the purpose and design of this 
appointment of the wisdom of God in the great work of our 
redemption and salvation. 

The condition of man as fallen, and the nature of religion, 
will best evidence the purpose and design of an outward and 
visible Church. The faculties of the soul being all impaired 
by sin, and- the desires and affections of the heart perverted 
from their original direction; to make man a religious crea- 
ture, and capable of loving and serving his maker, it was 
necessary to renew his spiritual strength, so far at least as to 
enable him to profit by that state of reprieve and trial, which 
the love of God in Christ Jesus decreed to afford him. And 
this we have good reason to believe is so far done to every 
creature under heaven. But as trial and improvement are 
of a progressive nature, and can only be met and carried on 
by care and diligence on our part, it depends on ourselves 
so far, what the result shall be. 

Religion, on the other hand, being conversant mainly with 
things invisible and spiritual, all its sanctions being future, 
and what is revealed depending simply on the veracity of 
God; therefore, faith, or a fixed and firm persuasion of the 
.being of God, and of the truth and certainty of the invisible 
things of a future state, lies at the very foundation of all re- 
ligious attainment. 

This faith being required of us, my friends, and being the 
only principle which can counteract and overcome the influ- 
ence and power of present and sensible things, which consti- 
tute our trial, and make them yield to the higher and nobler 



UNITY OF THE CHURCH. 319 

things which are revealed to us; a gracious and merciful God 
hath so ordered and disposed what concerns our religious 
condition, as to strengthen and keep alive this first founda- 
tion of all. 

To that end the Church, the ministry, and the sacraments, 
are instituted, that by outward and sensible signs, we might 
be reminded and kept under the influence of those invisible 
things which are the objects of Christian faith and hope; and 
furthermore, that they might be means and channels fur con- 
veying grace, that is, spiritual help, to our souls. This is the 
scriptural and only just view we can take of them, and hence 
we may see of what high importance the principle of unity 
is in those institutions, and particularly that on which the 
whole depends, to-wit: the authority of the institutor, as the 
life-blood which animates and invigorates the whole system. 
The Church then, or mystical body of Christ, is the rally- 
ing point of true believers — the appointed and visible refuge 
of all who would flee from the wrath to come; and is aptly 
and forcibly represented to us in the use, by the ark in which 
Noah and his family were saved from the destruction which 
came upon all who were out of it. In another place, by the 
figure of a sheep-fold, of which Christ is the chief shepherd 
and the door of the sheep, into which fold, he tells us, "who- 
soever enters in by him shall be saved, and go in and out 
and find pasture," that is, shall w T alk at liberty and have all 
his spiritual wants supplied. It is further represented as the 
guardian and keeper of holy writ — of the Scriptures of our 
faith, — and hence it is st3'led "the pillar and ground of the 
truth." Here again we must observe, the absolute and es- 
sential nature of that principle of unity or oneness in the 
Church, M'hich I have been setting before you. How else 
could this only rule of saving faith and right practice have 
been kept pure and unadulterated, and transmitted through 
so many ages and oppositions, and with the sacred character 
of being able to save our souls; and what else but this very 
principle, overruled and supported by the watchful care of 
his living head, makes it the standard of truth to every de- 
nomination under the Christian name — the court of appeals 
as it were, to the Christian world? But for this standing 
miracle — for such in truth it is, the bush burning, but not 



320 UNITY OF THE CHURCH. 

consumed — bow would every thing calling itself a Church, 
have pared and trimmed this sacred depot of divine truth to 
suit its own views of doctrine and order, and Scripture been 
multiplied, until all reverence and regard for its truth and 
certainty would have ceased among men. 

As a visible society, the Church must have its officers for 
the due management and administration of its affairs for the 
general good. And just as certainly as no man has any 
shadow of right to appoint servants and prescribe their duties 
in your family, or in mine, my hearers, no more can any such 
right be presumed or exercised towards the household of 
Christ; and when we consider that the affairs of this house- 
hold are altogether of a spiritual nature, and must depend for 
their effect on the authority by which they are transacted, it 
must be the height of delusion, ignorance, or presumption, 
for man to meddle with them on his own warrant; hence we 
read, "that no man taketh this honor unto himself but he 
that is called of God as was Aaron;" and as the whole polity 
of the Jewish Church, in its unity, was the shadow of better 
things to come under the gospel dispensation, the constitution 
of the Christian Church is founded on this principle; conse- 
quently the right to minister in that Church, must be derived 
from its head and founder. 

In perfect agreement herewith, St. Paul tells us, that 
when our Lord had finished his work upon earth, and was 
about to ascend up on high, "He gave some apostles, and 
some prophets, and some evangelists, and some pastors and 
teachers, for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the 
ministry, for the edifying the body of Christ, till we all come 
in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of 
Goo, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of 
the fulness of Christ." Here then, my brethren, we have 
the appoiutment and the purpose of the ministry fully de- 
clared to us, and all depending on this root of unity, the 
authority of Christ — they are in his name to declare to you 
the whole counsel of God, respecting your present and future 
condition, to call you to repentance, to faith, to holiness, as 
the conditions of eternal life. As ambassadors of Christ, 
they are to negotiate peace and reconciliation between God 
and his rebellious creatures, and to ratify the terms of that 



UNITY OF THE CHURCH. 321 

new and gracious covenant of mercy, and forgiveness of sins, 
which Christ by his death has purchased for all who shall 
believe in his only saving name. 

And can such weighty and unspeakable interests be inter- 
meddled, with without warrant? Are we so foolish as to 
transact an affair of this importance, without being well 
assured, that the person who stands forward between God 
and us, has authority from God to pledge his promises and 
to receive our submission? And can we not perceive and 
understand, in this appointment of visible agents, the ex- 
ceeding goodness of God our Saviour towards us, in so ac- 
commodating the mystery of redemption to our condition, 
that faith should have something to rest upon, something 
outward and sensible to realize itself by, and to grow and 
increase, as we faithfully use the means appointed; can we 
not be made to feel, that as it is of the last importance for 
men to receive, that therefore they ought to know with cer- 
tainty, where to look for the depositories of his grace and 
Holy Spikit; and is it not the very blindness of delusion to 
make no inquiry, whether those who say, "Chkist is here, or 
lo, he is there," have indeed any authority to say that he is 
any where? 

But here it may be asked, and very properly, how are 
we to determine this point? To this I answer, that God ■ 
hath not left us unprovided on so material a circumstance, 
would we only be guided and directed by his word. For 
just as this was determined in the days of the apostles, is it 
to be determined now — and by evidence just as satisfactory, 
though not of the same kind. For what the miraculous wit- 
ness of the Holy Ghost was to the divine commission of the 
apostles, that the ordination and authority of the Church, 
founded by them, and holding succession from them, is to us. 
For it is the authority of Christ running in that channel 
which himself appointed, and is capable of being proved or 
disproved with the same certainty as any other matter of 
fact. To say or to think otherwise, is to take for granted 
either that these words of Christ concerning his Church — 
"the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" — have failed, 
or what would be the same thing in effect, that it has become 
so obscured, that no reasonable search can find it. But God 
[Vol. 1,— *21.] 



322 UNITY OF THE CHURCH. 

be thanked, it is not so. And thanks to his holy and merci- 
ful name, he hath not in this weighty affair left us comfort- 
less. We can try the spirits whether they are of God, by 
that open and verifiable standard, their descent from those 
apostles, to whom he committed the keys of the kingdom of 
heaven, whom he empowered to bind and to loose; whom he 
sent to convert and baptize the nations, to gather and estab- 
lish his Church; whom he empowered to commit to faithful 
men after them, the same precious deposit, even unto the 
end of the world; and whom he fully authorized for all these 
glorious and gracious purposes in that plenary commission 
— "As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you — As my 
Father hath appointed unto me a kingdom, I also appoint 
unto you a kingdom." 

While the Church, and the ministry in it, are thus wisely 
and mercifully constituted, to help the weakness, and in- 
crease the strength of our faith, and to give to things spirit- 
ual and invisible, a body and substance as it were, nnited to 
the grossness of our siu-enfeebled faculties; the sacraments 
are, in a more especial manner, appropriated as the channels 
of that grace, without which we can do nothing, and calcu- 
lated to evince in the clearest manner, the all-pervading in- 
fluence of the authority of Christ, as the only verifiable root 
of unity in his Church. 

By the sacrament of baptism, and by that only, can we be 
received into the visible Church, be made members of Christ, 
become parties to the Christian covenant, and entitled, until 
forfeited by personal sin, to all the benefits of Christ's under- 
taking for us. And this so strictly, that an unbaptized per- 
son has no right to the name of Christian, nor any covenant 
claim to revealed mercy. But let no one here represent me 
as saying, that persons unbaptized are, therefore, cut off from 
all hope of salvation. What I say is, that they have no 
covenanted, or promised title to it. In a matter of such 
moment, then, where such mighty benefits are annexed to 
this ordinance, the authority by which the sacrament is ad- 
ministered is of the first importance, unless we entertain the 
monstrous notion, that the certainty and assurance arising 
from authorised ministrations in religion, are of no moment 
to the peace and comfort of believers. But can any serious 



UNITY OF THE CHURCH. 323 

person think thus of so solemn an ordinance as a sacrament? 
And such an ordinance too, as lies at the very root of Chris- 
tian profession, at the entrance to those covenanted mercies, 
which were ratified in the blood of Christ; the seal and 
pledge that we shall obtain them on the conditions then 
entered into, and the instituted means or channel of that 
grace by which alone we are enabled to fulfil them. 

In a temporal interest, my friends, do we enter into a con- 
tract with persons at a distance, without examining whether 
their representative is properly and legally authorised to bind 
his principal? And is not baptism a contract, with mutual 
engagements between God and man, which can no otherwise 
be executed or transacted but by an authorized and ac- 
credited agent? Alas! what blind delusion has seized upon 
men, that in what concerns their immortal souls, they are 
carelessly satisfied with a security on which they would not 
risk their estates, and are filled with rage perhaps at the 
friendly hand which would point out their error, while it is 
not too late to retrieve their mistake. But be it so, whether 
they will hear or whether they will forbear — the whole coun- 
sel of God must be declared. 

The same argument applies still more powerfully to the 
higher sacrament of the eucharist, on which I have not time 
to enlarge, but which yourselves, I trust, my brethren, can 
carry out in its application to that ordinance, for the analogy 
is the same, while the extent is greater, and the consequences 
of a higher order. 

On the one depends our entrance into, on the other our 
continuance in, the Christian covenant of salvation, by grace 
through faith. 

The application of what has been said, addresses itself to 
the plain understanding of plain Christian people, on the 
deep interests of their condition, as respects the covenanted 
mercies of God in Christ Jesus — Whether they are held and 
hoped for, as set forth in his true and lively word, according 
to the conditions on which they are therein limited, or whether 
some unconsidered, unauthorized scheme of man's invention, 
recent or remote, is blindly followed and relied upon, in what 
is of more worth than millions of such worlds as this. This 
is the point, my friends, to which to bring my text, and what 



324: UNITY OF THE CHURCH. 

grows out of it. If what I have laid before you is a fair and 
reasonable exposition of undoubted Scripture, there can be 
no escape from it, but at a risk which is terrible to think of. 
And if the whole subject is fortified against all vain reason- 
ings, by the circumstance, that in the Church derived from 
the apostles of our Lokd and Saviour Jesus Christ — the Pro- 
testant Episcopal Church, once more reviving among you — 
all these advantages are to be found, with whatever of Chris- 
tian edification may be promised you elsewhere; if the ques- 
tion is between certainty and uncertainty, between doubt and 
assurance — if you may gain but cannot lose — what room can 
there be for hesitation? "I speak as unto wise men, judge 
ye what I say." 

Well do I know, my hearers, the power of prejudice and 
early prepossession, and long had I to struggle with it. But 
truth is mighty, and will prevail, if allowed to speak. "Well 
do I know the power of pride, and the fear of the world's re- 
mark, in stifling the convictions whicli truth of this descrip- 
tion will force upon the mind. But it is the experience of 
every day, that these will yield to temporal convenience, and 
temporal interest. And shall they not give way in favor of 
our souls? shall they nut yield to interests which are eternal? 
Let the truth, then, be counted worth a serious consideration. 
That it might be the simple truth, and the plain reasonings 
growing out of that truth, which should be laid before you 
this dav, I have avoided all learned criticisms, all authorities 
for opinion, but the one irreversible authority of God's word. 
There is one Body, says that word — one Church, or ark 
of safety for sinners to betake themselves to, to escape from 
the wrath of God. Where shall we find it, how shall we 
know it? should be the earnest inquiry of every soul seeking 
salvation. There is "one baptism," says the same true and 
unchangeable word, and "lie that believeth and is baptized 
shall be saved." Who shall administer to us this precious 
seal of covenanted mercy? should be the careful considera- 
tion of all who look for that Grace of God "which bringeth 
salvation." There is one cup of blessing, and one bread of 
life to be partaken of, in one communion of saints — say the 
Scriptures of truth. Who shall bless and consecrate, and ■• 
hand over to us these lively memorials of a Saviour's dying 



UNITY OF THE CHURCH. 325 

love, these authoritative pledges of pardon, peace, and eter- 
nal life in him? should be the anxious cry of every redeemed 
sinner. "Beloved, believe not eveiy Spirit, but try the 
Spirits, whether they be of God, because many false pro- 
phets are gone out into the world." Try them, then, my 
hearers, not by their own assertions or reasonings — not by 
any pretensions to a call from God, which they can neither 
prove, or you determine. Bring them to that test, which is 
the same in all ages of the Church, and capable of being 
proved or disproved, with a certainty which precludes impo- 
sition, to-wit: the authority of Christ, transmitted through 
his apostles to the Church — God is not the author of confu- 
sion^ out of order. To this test bring him who now speaks 
to you, both as respects his office and his doctrine — I ask no 
more — and may God give you the hearing ear, and the un- 
derstanding heart. 



SERMON VII. 



CHRISTMAS. 



St. Matthew, xi. 26. 

"Coma unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give 
you rest." 

The wonderful event, which, as a Christian people, we 
are called upon to celebrate, by the anniversary return of 
this day, is replete with every consideration which can en- 
gage the attention, gladden the hearts, and elevate the hopes 
of a redeemed world. God made man, that man might be 
made the righteousness of God in him, has in its very an- 
nouncement, my brethren, the most impressive application; 
for there lives not, in the compass of this world, tnat being, 
whose highest interests and brightest hopes are not bound 
up and identified with the incarnation of God the Son. God 
in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing 
their trespasses unto them, contains such an animating dis- 
covery of the breadth and length and depth and height of 
his rich redeeming love, as to tune every heart, and unloose 
every tongue with joyful praise; for there is not found that 
descendant of Adam, who has not to look to God for the 
pardon or penalty of sin. The union of the divine and human 
nature in one Christ, presents that spectacle of infinite and 
unsearchable wisdom, which even the angels desire to look 
into, and which offers to every soul of man that tried foun- 
dation stone, on which to build the hope that shall not be 
disappointed. And these all, my friends, high, holy and 
infinite as they are in themselves, and in their application to 
us, depend for their truth and certainty, for their whole value 
and importance, on the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. For of 
this it may bo said, and with equal truth, as is said of his 
resurrection, if Christ be not born, according to the Scrip- 
tures, then there is no hope for man; Christianity is a fable 
and revelation a romance. 

■ 



328 CHRISTMAS. 

ISTeed we then to wonder, my brethren, that a season preg- 
nant with such glad tidings and precious hopes, should be 
celebrated by the Church, with such appropriate offices as 
gives to the religion she inculcates the cheerful and happy 
character of a reasonable service? Ouo;ht we not rather to 
admire, that any who say they are Christ's, should refuse 
this tribute of annual respect to the Saviour's birth, and 
withhold themselves from those high gratulations with which 
Christians should meet each other on this morning, and 
from tliose edifying meditations, which are prompted by the 
near survey of this auspicious event? "Unto us a child is 
born, unto us a Son is given," and the gracious purpose of 
his advent in the flesh, with the fulfilment of that purpose, 
in his life, death, resurrection, and ascension, must ever 
form the most profitable source of Christian knowledge and 
Christian hope. His birth into our nature, my brethren, was 
necessary in order to our redemption from sin and eternal 
death; and in like manner, our birth into his nature is equally 
necessary in order to our sanctification and attainment of 
eternal life. Grant, O God, that while we, and all thy whole 
Church, are rejoicing at the birth of thy holy child Jesus, there 
may be joy in heaven over one sinner that is brought to Christ, 
and born again of incorruptible seed by the living word! 

To that blessed end, I meet you this joyful morning, my 
brethren and hearers, with the gracious invitation of the 
Saviour; and that it may be a word in season to all, I shall 
endeavor to explain and point out, 

First, What that burden is from which Christ offers to 
deliver us. 

Secondly, The nature of the rest he promises to give those 
who come to him. 

I shall then inform you how to come to him, and conclude 
with an application of the subject. 

"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, 
and I will give you rest." 

I. First — I am to explain and point out what that burden 
is, from which Christ offers to deliver us. 

To form some just estimate of this part of our Lord's un- 
dertaking, we must consider the effect of sin on the state and 
condition of the world; for whatever we may choose to think 
or say, it is thus only, my friends, that we cap learn the 



CHRISTMAS. 329 

infinite importance of the Saviour, and be drawn by the 
gospel to come to him. 

From the nature and perfections of God, the first effect of 
sin is separation and exclusion from him forever; for he is of 
purer eyes than to behold iniquity, and cannot look upon 
sin with the least degree of allowance. From the nature and 
perfection also of the law of his holy government, the penalty 
therein denounced against the transgression of its precepts 
must be inflicted. u The soul that sinneth it must die — 
without shedding of blood there is uq remission." Hence it 
is evident, that if a sinner, that is, a wilful transgressor of 
the law of God, or a race of sinners, is allowed to continue in 
being, it must be on some principle of substitution and satis- 
faction, whereby these infinite perfections are maintained 
and reconciled both with the letter and the spirit of their re- 
quirements. And what is the whole discovery of revelation 
to us, my hearers, but an exemplification of that infinite wis- 
dom and unspeakable love, whereby God has provided for 
the exercise of mercy, and yet preserved inviolate the sove- 
reignty of his righteous government? 

From the nature and condition of man as a created and 
accountable being, the effect of sin is spiritual death, or sub- 
jection to its power and dominion forever. As the life of the 
soul consists in union with God by his Spirit, the loss of 
this union, by the wilful transgression of God's holy law, 
delivers man over to another master, even to the law of sin 
in his members; hence return to God is impossible to the 
sinner himself; he is equally without inclination, as he is 
without the means of regaining his lost estate. The law of 
sin ruling his depraved and degraded faculties, his desires 
are earthly, sensual, devilish; God is not in all his thoughts; 
nor is there a wish, from himself, to regain the divine favor. 
But even were the wish possible, the means are wanting. 
"What has the sinner to do with God? O that the millions 
under the gospel, who are therefore doubly sinners, would 
ask themselves this question, and bring it to trial, even by 
the reason of their own minds. Rebellion, disobedience, im- 
purity, hatred; these form the sum total of what the sinner is 
possessed of in himself; this is therefore all that he could 
offer. But for each of these, the law demands its penalty, 
and justice dooms him to destruction. 



330 CHRISTMAS. 

On the highest interests of man, then, his spiritual and 
eternal welfare, the effect of sin is like the desolation of the 
■whirlwinds — it uproots and scatters them irrecoverably. It 
raises a barrier between God and man, which can be passed 
by no human fraud, or human force. It is the flaming sword 
in the hands of the cherubim, which turns in every direction 
to guard the paradise of God, and the way of the tree of life, 
from all who are submitted to its power, and in love with its 
bondage. 

But this, my brethren and hearers, though more than suf- 
ficient to show its detestable nature to rational beings, is but 
a part of its deplorable effects. To sin, as the cause, we can 
trace all the miseries of the present life. Pain, sorrow, sick- 
ness, disappointment, death, break in upon every enjoyment, 
and cloud the happiest lot of mortality, with the sigh of re- 
gret, and the throb of anguish. Inordinate affection, con- 
flicting interest, pride, passion, and revenge, burst through 
the feeble restraints which oppose their gratification, and 
work the ocean of life into rage, amid the storm of their 
angry encounter. "What period of life, or portion of this 
world, is exempt from its deleterious influence? Infancy 
suffers, youth is blasted, manhood withers, and old age 
groans, under its stroke. Neither wisdom, nor worth, nor 
power, can evade its curse. It has obtained possession, and 
maintains its sway. Yet strange to tell, this public enemy, 
this general destroyer, is nevertheless the close companion, 
the intimate associate, of millions in Christian lands, who, 
though they are warned of the danger heed it not, but yield 
themselves to its deceitful and dangerous seductions. And 
stranger still, though a heavenly physician has undertaken 
the cure, though an Almighty Saviour offers his help, though 
the Son of God hath taken upon himself the nature that 
sinned, though he hath paid the penalty, and purchased sal- 
vation for all that believe in his name, "yet they will not 
come to him that they may have life;" and this it is, my 
friends, which marks its deadliest feature — it closes the ears, 
it 6tupifies the understanding, it hardens the hearts, of its 
votaries. Wisdom may warn — experience may teach — yea, 
God may call, but too often it is all in vain — "Like the deaf 
adder, they will not hear the voice of the charmer, charm he 
never so wisely." 



CHRISTMAS. 331 

Iii this short and very inadequate statement of the dread- 
ful effects of sin, we learn what that burden is from which 
Christ offers to deliver all who come to him; and surely, if 
separation from God — exposure to his curse — suffering in the 
present life, and everlasting misery in that which is to come, 
deserve to be considered as a burden — such is the load under 
which the sinner labors. He may not indeed feel it — he 
may not be willing to believe that it is so — and herein is the 
strongest proof of its power and dominion over him; yet as 
God is true, the guilt and the damnation of sin is upon every 
60ul under the gospel who has not 'come to Christ for de- 
liverance. This is the solemn truth which I wish to press 
upon your hearts my hearers — which I wish you to consider, 
to examine, to weigh, as for eternity; because it is this only 
which can make the invitation of my text a joyful sound, and 
Jesus Christ precious to your souls. "They that are whole," 
indeed, "need not a physician;" but where is he to be found 
who is free from the disease, the mortal distemper, of sin? 
where shall be found the man who dare venture to meet the 
justice of God, without the shield of a Saviour's merits? Oh! 
"If the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly 
and the sinner appear? To-day then, if you will hear his 
voice, harden not your hearts," but meet this propitious sea- 
son, with that deep and serious interest which a message of 
mercy and peace, from heaven to a world of sinners, should 
receive from all to whom it is addressed. 

II. Secondly, I am to explain and point out to you the 
nature of the rest he promises to give to those who come to 
him. 

The words "rest" and "peace" being nearly synonimous in 
scripture usage; and a state of sin being a state of enmity 
with God; it is with reference to this, that the word rest is to 
be taken. The rest promised, therefore, will respect as well 
the life that now is, as that which is to come. 

To every rational mind, the most grievous and heart-sink- 
ing condition which can be imagined, is that of alienation 
from God and exposure to his wrath. But this is the con- 
dition of all mankind by nature — "AH have sinned and come 
short of the glory of God." To be released and delivered, 
therefore, from the terrible apprehensions of such a state of 



332 CHRISTMAS. 

condemnation, is to obtain rest. This, the undertaking of 
the Son of God hath accomplished for the whole world, and 
converted a state of destitution and death into a state of re- 
prieve and trial, with means commensurate to the end. And 
this is the foundation of those glad tidings which, by the gos- 
pel, are commanded to be preached among all nations for the 
obedience of faith; hence we read that "God was in Christ, 
reconciling the world unto himself," that "Christ is our 
peace, having made peace by the blood of his cross," and 
hence the gracious command and commission to his ministers, 
"Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every 
creature — he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, 
he that believeth not shall be damned." 

To an accountable being, the consciousness of guilt by rea- 
son of actual sin, and the conviction that sin shall not go un- 
punished, but must endure for ever the out-pourings of the 
wrath of God, is a burden too heavy to be borne. Yet such 
is the power and prevalence of sin, even under the grace of 
the gospel, that there lives not the descendant of Adam, 
whom a faithful examination of himself by the law of God, 
would not bring under all the fearful forebodings of the sen- 
tence denounced against sin. And from this heavy burden 
also, the Saviour offers rest; and to those in chief who thus 
labor and are heavy laden, is the invitation of my text di- 
rected. Now this rest consists in a sure and certain trust, 
wrought in the heart by the Holy Ghost, through the re- 
vealed word, that for what Christ hath done and suffered, 
the penitent sinner is forgiven, his offences blotted out, and 
himself received into a state of favor and acceptance with 
God, And this, my friends and hearers, is what is meant by 
experimental religion; the actual experience, by a particular 
sinner, of the pardon procured for all in general, by the death 
•of Christ; a blessing of God, to the peace and comfort of his 
people in the present life, without which the religion of the 
gospel would be only a speculation of the head, a science to 
exercise the ingenuity of the understanding, but with which 
it becomes the hidden man of the heart, the moving power 
which re-settles the affections, and rules the life with the 
love of God. "We love him, my brethren, because he first 
loved us." Uow this rest is attained by faith, and as faith 



CHRISTMAS. 333 

cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God, it is 
there we must look for its foundation, and thus it is found. 

In the substitution of the Son of God for the sinner himself, 
the believer apprehends the true ground of his justification 
and acceptance; in the very nature that sinned, full satisfac- 
tion is made to the infinite justice of God; in the very nature 
that sinned, complete obedience is rendered to the holy law 
of God. . Hence, the penitent sinner learns, and by faith 
realizes, "that God can be just, and the justifler of him that 
believeth in Jesus." The debt being paid, the debtor is re- 
leased; he walks at liberty. "Being justified by faith we 
have peace with God, through Jesus Christ our Lord." 

And do I look on any this morning, within whose reach 
this rich blessing is placed, who are yet strangers to the com- 
fort which peace with God brings to the heart? Do I look 
on any, who, because they are without the experience of its 
power, therefore doubt, and deny its reality? Alas, my dear 
friends, is there then, in your view, nothing in religion, be- 
yond the speculative knowledge of the wonders revealed to 
us; no influence or effect of divine truth upon the heart; no 
constraining power of the love of Christ upon the life? Shall 
sin be allowed a testimony which is denied to the grace of 
God? Is not the Spirit given to convince of righteousness, 
as well as of sin? 0, think again, and ask yourselves, where is 
your foundation for eternity; where is your rest and your 
peace, when this world and its vanities shall consume away 
into nothing? 0, think again, is sin a speculation; is death 
a mere phantom of the imagination; is judgment a conjecture 
of man, and are heaven and hell fictions and romance? For 
such they must all be, if that religion which is provided to 
overcome sin and prepare us for eternity, is without an ex- 
perimental testimony of its power and its peace. O, be no 
longer faithless, but believing; meet the invitation of the 
Saviour with a willing mind; resort to the means he hath 
provided for you; let conscience this moment be heard and 
followed, and then you shall know the power and the com- 
fort of that grace of God, which bringeth salvation. 

Another part of the rest which the Saviour promises to all 
who come to him, is deliverance from the power of sin; and 
this also, my hearers, is a point of experimental religion, and 
the abiding testimony that we belong to Christ. 



CHRISTMAS. 

To pay the ransom of immortal souls sold under sin; to 
deliver them from the condemnation due to it, and reconcile 
a holy God to his sinful creatures, through an infinite and a 
priceless work, is yet but a part of his saving office. To have 
left us thus, would have been to have died in vain; sin would 
still have reigned, and man been shut out from God. 

But he who came to redeem and save us, my brethren, 
came also "to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself; He 
came to redeem us from all iniquity, and to purify unto him- 
self a peculiar people, zealous of good works." To this gra- 
cious end, all the institutions of his religion, his doctrines, 
his precepts, the example of his sinless life, and the assistance 
of his Holy Spirit, are adapted; these are all the purchase of 
his death, and among those precious gifts which he received 
for men, when he ascended up on high, and led captivity 
captive. And as moral beings, these we are recpiired so to 
use and apply, as to fulfil the purpose for which they are given. 

To the awakened soul, convinced by the Holy Spirit of the 
exceeding sinfulness of sin, the sinful nature which yet re- 
mains, even in the true convert, is the most grievous of all 
burdens. St. Paul mourned over the corruption of his na- 
ture: I know, says he, that in my flesh dwelleth no good 
thing. The law in his members warring against the law of 
his mind, drew from him the impassioned exclamation, "Oh! 
wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body 
of this death." And as all believers agree with him in this 
experience of the remaining power of sin, so do they also 
unite in his testimony to the means by which it is met, re- 
strained, and overcome — "The grace of God through Jesus 
CinasT our Lord." 

In the language of Scripture, my brethren, the word grace, 
when applied to moral beings, means assistance; the supply 
of that, without which we can do nothing. The corruption 
of our nature by the taint of sin, affects not our physical, but 
our moral ability; to this, therefore, the help of God is given, 
in working out our salvation. Hence the encouragement 
every where held out in the Scriptures, to those who embrace 
the gospel. "Sin shall not have dominion over you, for ye 
are not under the law, but under grace — 'the law of the spirit 
of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of 



CHRISTMAS. 335. 

sin and death — work out your own salvation with fear and 
trembling, for it is God that worketh in vou both to will and 
to do of his good pleasure." 

The rest, therefore, which the Saviour promises to those 
who come to him, from the power and prevalence of sin, is 
of that nature as to require the putting forth of our own ex- 
ertions; and such must ever be the case, where a moral ob- 
ject is to be attained. Necessitating grace makes man a mere 
piece of mechanism, no more capable of reward or deserving 
of punishment, in the judgment of a moral governor, than a 
clock or a watch. No, my brethren and hearers, "the grace 
of God hath appeared to all men, teaching them, that deny- 
ing ungodliness and worldly lusts, they should live soberly, 
righteously, and godly in this present world." 

To obtain the Saviour's rest, then, from the power of sin, 
we must put forth the ability he hath given in resisting sin 
— we must watch against its stirrings and excitements — we 
must avoid its temptations, and guard against all its approach- 
es — especially we must keep the body under, the lusts of the 
flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life. St. Paul 
speaks of crucifying the flesh, with the affections and lusts; 
now, this is a slow and a painful process, but it is the only 
one by which we can succeed. It is the only one, also, which 
gives at the same time encouragement to proceed. Victory 
over one sinful propensity, is the Saviour's witness, that 
gqe,ater is he that is for us, than he that is against us. Hence, 
the believer goes on, conquering and to conquer, till all his 
enemies are subdued; and the rest he obtains here, is a fore- 
taste of that complete and never interrupted rest, which re- 
mains for the people of God in the life that is to come. 

Well is our present state compared to a warfare, my breth- 
ren; and though it is a state of rest, when compared with 
that of those who will not come to Christ, it is chiefly in the 
anticipation of the issue, that this rest is to be sought and 
found. "In the world ye shall have tribulations," says he 
who offers us rest, "but be of good cheer, I have overcome 
the world." And to contrast the different conditions of those 
who embrace, and those who neglect, the gospel — let us think 
for a moment of their respective dependencies in the day of 
God. "What will the worldling, who has been too careless, 



336 CHEISTMAS. 

or too busy, in the present life, to heed the calls of the Sa- 
viour, then have to depend on? "Will the farms and the mer- 
chandize, the pleasures and the applause of the world, have 
merit in the sight of God to deliver his soul? "Will the neg- 
lect of the gospel stand excused, by intentions never realized? 
Can any supposable case be pleaded, in extenuation even, 
for not coming to Cueist? Alas! my dear hearers, be not 
deceived by the specious deceits of sin. The care of the soul 
is the one thing needful. And what will the humble Chris- 
tian, who has obeyed the call, and come to the Saviour for 
life, and staked his soul on his power and willingness to save 
— who has striven against sin, and grown in grace — what 
will he have to offer to God in that awful day? The Saviour's 
blood, the Saviour's merits, the Saviour's righteousness — 
received and applied by faith. — The wedding garment of 
holiness, the passport to eternal life, in the kingdom of 
Christ and of God. 

Every way, then, it is safe to come to Cueist; in this life, 
it is rest from the guilt, and the power, and the condem- 
nation of sin; and in the life to come, it is eternal felicity in 
the presence of God? O, who is athirst for this blessing — 
who is mourning under the pressure of sin — who is suffering 
under its present miseries, and dreading its future wages, the 
weary and the heavy laden with its intolerable burden? To 
you is the word of this salvation sent. The Saviour calls — 
"Come unto me, and I Avill give you rest." O, let your ears 
and your hearts open to the glad tidings, and make this 
happy season of his advent in the flesh, the anniversary of a 
new and heavenly birth in your souls. "Now is the accepted 
time — now is the day of salvation." 

On this mighty interest — to this gracious invitation — how 
careless and how cold are those to whom it is presented. 
When He who spake as never man spake, uttered these very 
words, it was then as it is now— they heard, but they heeded 
not. Yet, my dear friends, if you would hear the most joy- 
ful sound that tongue shall ever utter, addressed to you — 
"come ye blessed of my Father" — you must now come to 
Cueist, and take his yoke upon you and learn of him. He 
.done "is the way, the truth, and the life — and no man 
conieth unto the Father but by him." And with this ad- 



CHKISTMAS. 337 

ditional claim to your attention, I will now proceed to inform 
yon how yon are to come to him. 

To come to Christ, in Scripture language, means, to em- 
brace the gospel, to make profession of his religion, to ac- 
cept of him as your Saviour, and to obey him as your king. 

In fulfilling this duty, the first step is the sacrament of 
baptism, as the seal of that covenant wherein we give our- 
selves to him, and receive from him the pledge of all the 
blessings he hath purchased for us. And so strictly is this 
the first step in coming to Christ, that there is no other re- 
vealed mode of becoming entitled to the promises of God in 
him. For thus it is written — "He that belie veth and is bap- 
tized shall be saved. Except a man be born of water and of 
the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God" — and 
though it has become the fashion to undervalue the ordi- 
nances of Christ's house, and to speak lightly of this sacra- 
ment, yet surely, my friends, what is written will stand fast, 
when the vain reasonings of men shall be as chaff' before the 
storm. 

This step, all present, perhaps, have already taken, and so 

far have come to Christ; but as the baptism which saves "is 

not the washing away the filth of the flesh, but the answer 

of a good conscience towards God," in the fulfilment of the 

baptismal engagement, therefore, as all, alas, have herein 

failed, and have thereby forfeited the promises then made 

over to them, and lost the privileges then conferred upon 

them, the next step in coming to Christ is, by repentance 

and obedience. These God hath been graciously pleased to 

accept from the penitent sinner, when offered in the name of 

his only begotten Son, and in steadfast reliance on his merits, 

for their efficacy. Now this repentance consists in such a 

godly sorrow for sin, as renders it hateful and burdensome, 

and creates a hearty and earnest desire to be delivered from 

its power. This desire is manifested by prayer to God, for 

pardon and deliverance, and by departing from all iniquity; 

and the fruit of true repentance is conversion of the heart to 

God, with renewed obedience, and confirmed faith in his 

precious promises through Christ. The penitent is again 

received into favor, the Holy Spirit is again renewed in 

his heart, and all the privileges of his baptism restored. 

[Vol. 1,— *22.] 



338 CHRISTMAS. 

To this repentance sinners are continually exhorted by 
the gospel; "without this repentance they are assured that 
they shall perish; and that they may be able to repent, 
the Holy Ghost is sent down into the world, and so far 
present in every baptized person, as to convince them of sin; 
speaking in their consciences, and bearing witness to the 
truth of the promises and threatenings of the gospel. These 
good motions of the Spirit of God, I hesitate not to say, every 
impenitent sinner now before me hath again and again ex- 
perienced. Often would he have led you to Cueist, my 
friends, but ye would not — often has his witness in your 
hearts almost persuaded you to be Christians, but you have 
stilled his saving convictions, and put off till a more con- 
venient season, the one thing needful. O, let not the con- 
victions of this day be added to the number, for God hath 
said, "mv Spirit shall not alwavs strive with man." But now, 
even as you are, come to Cueist; yield not to the delusion 
th.it you are not good enough to come to him — "he came to 
call sinners to repentance." If therefore you are a sinner, 
and sensible of it, you are the person he came to save, and 
he is the verv Saviour vou need. To the gracious invitation 
of my text,. add the merciful declaration, "him that cometh 
unto me I will in no wise cast out," and let sin, and unbelief, 
and fear, and shame, bow down before the mercy seat, sub- 
dued by redeeming love. 

"Come unto me, .all ye that labour and are heavy laden, 
and I will give you rest." 

O that the application of this Scripture may be made to 
every heart by the spirit of God — that this joyful Sabbath 
may have rejoicing witnesses upon earth, and responding 
hallelujahs in heaven. 

My brethren, it is the voice of affection, of deep interest 
in the welfare of the world he made and redeemed — O, let 
it be met with that fervor of faith and love in our hearts 
which shall unite us still closer to him and to each other. In 
the faith of his promise we have come to him, and should 
testify of his truth in giving us rest, and peace, through the 
atonement of his cross, and the power of his resurrection. 
This witness we can best give, my dear brethren in the Lord, 
by conforming to his example, and obeying his commands. 



CHRISTMAS. 339 

His last command is, "love one another." In this then, let 
us strive for the mastery, "and by love serve one another." 
The last act of his blessed life was an act of love in praying 
for his murderers; as our lives then draw to their close, let 
us study to be found as he was, in peace and charity with 
all men. 

As we rejoice over his birth, and bless God for the mercy 
and love herein showed to our souls, let us approach the 
sacrament of his death with hearts the more deeply pene- 
trated with every emotion which the contemplation of this 
unspeakable gift is calculated to raise; it is an overwhelming 
subject, my brethren, and defies the tongues of men and 
angels to reach its worth. 

"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down 
his life for his friends — but God commendeth his love to- 
wards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for 
lis;" yet the heart may feel what the tongue cannot express; 
and he who looketh on the heart stands ever ready to accept 
the offering it brings, in humble love and holy faith. Let 
us draw near them, my brethren, with true hearts, in full 
assurance of faith, that if when we were enemies we were 
reconciled to God, by the death of his Son— -much more, 
being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. 

Now to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy 
Ghost, be ascribed, as is most justly due, all glory, honor, 
and praise, now, henceforth and for ever. Amen. 






SEKMON VIII. 



NEW-TEAE'S DAT. 



Psalm xxxi. 15. (First clause.) 
"My times are in thy hand." 

Our condition in the present life, my brethren, is such, 
that, if considered aright, it could hardly fail to produce that 
seriousness and sobriety of mind which is the inlet to all re- 
ligious impression. However we may try to hide from our- 
selves what poor dependent creatures we are, the uncertain 
transitory nature of temporal things is exactly calculated to 
teach the salutary lesson, that here we have no continuance, 
no abiding interest, worth that exclusive care and passionate 
eagerness wherewith so many pursue the world, and the per- 
ishing portion of its vain, unsatisfying, yet ensnaring delights. 
And however still more unwisely we may turn away from 
the counsel and warning of God's revealed word, yet certain 
it is that no where else can we find comfort and relief in 
times of trouble and distress, in those trying moments when 
the world betrays, and its hope deceives, and disappointment 
casts down the tottering fabric we had built up on the sandy 
foundation of an earthly dependence. Thus is it ordered by 
the all-pervading wisdom of God, and through his tender 
love to us his creatures, that the frailty and weakness of our 
mortal state, the disappointments and sorrows of the present 
life, the insecurity and uncertainty of every earthly good, 
with all other the consequences of our fallen condition, should 
be present and sensible arguments to direct our views to a 
better hope, our trust and confidence to a more secure and 
permanent dependence, than the promises of time, the delights 
of sense, or the glory and praise of this world, can supply. 

To produce this salutary effect upon us, many considera- 
tions are set before us, both by the light of nature, and in the 
page of revelation; but none of more weighty application 
than that presented in the words of the text — "My times are 



342 stew-teak's day. 

in thy hand." A sentiment, my friends, deeply expressive 
of a devout and confiding spirit, of a submissive and humble 
heart, and truly descriptive of that Christian temper, which 
has learnt to trust in God, believing "that all things shall 
work together for good to them that love him." 

Tli at God is, and that he is the rewarder of such as dili- 
gently seek him, is the first foundation of all, my brethren^ 
the never to be shaken principle on which all religious de- 
pendence must be built up, the living root, from which branch 
out in beautiful order, the faith which works by love, the 
hope that maketh not ashamed, the charity that never fail- 
eth. That there is a supreme Being, infinitely good, wise, 
and powerful, who holds in his hands the issues of life and 
death, who directs and controls, disposes, and overrules events, 
both for general and particular good, is the only solid ground 
of hope and comfort, to which such poor, short-sighted, frail 
and transient creatures as we are, can resort, either for relief 
in present distress, or defence from future evil. That we are 
not given over to the guidance of our own misrule, to the 
anarchy and destruction which our own evil passions would 
inevitably produce, is such a proof of the love and compas- 
sion of our heavenly Father towards his rebellious children, 
as should draw all our hearts to him in subjection and obe- 
dience, and fill our soula with the deepest thankfulness,, that 
amid the sundry and manifold changes of this mortal life, 
our times are in the hands of Him, who is infinite in wisdom 
and power, perfect in goodness and truth, and glorious in 
majesty and holiness. 

In discoursing on these words on the present occasion, I 
shall use them chiefly as a lesson of caution and admonition 
to the careless and inconsiderate, and of comfort and support 
to the Christian; with an application of the whole to the pre- 
sent season, and the use we should make of it. 

"My times are in thy hand." It may be useful to premise 
that by the word "times" as here applied, we are to under- 
stand, not barely the limit of our lives, but the whole state 
< if our condition in the world. This is evident from the word 
being in the plural number. Had the expression been, My 
time is in thy hand, the sentiment would have been confined 
properly enough to the uncertain tenure of this mortal life. 



new-tear's DAT. 343 

But being in the plural number, "My times are in thy hand," 
it comprehends not only that, but also, whatever is provi- 
dential in the whole course of it. 

This view of the subject opens a wide field to our medita- 
tions, my brethren, and must increase the interest we all 
have, in deriving from it such instruction as may profit us, 
in running the race set before us. 

Now nothing can be more conducive to this end, than to 
be rightly informed as to the purpose and design of Almighty 
God in bringing us into being under the circumstances in 
which we are found; because our duties, generally speaking, 
are derived from our condition, and always proportioned to 
the means and opportunity given. What our condition in 
life may be, and what the extent of our means — is in the 
hand of another over whom we have no control; but what 
use we shall make of them, is altogether in the disposal of 
that moral agency, that freedom of will and choice, which 
alone constitutes us accountable creatures, and capable either 
of reward or punishment. 

This may be exemplified in various ways. When we shall 
be born, and how long we shall live, are certainly not in 
our own control. But to what we shall apply life when 
given, and time when bestowed upon us, must be the result 
of some choice made by ourselves. Again: In what circum- 
stances we shall come into life, whether poor or rich, bond 
or free, whether with a bright or dull capacity, is with him 
in whose hand our times are; but the consequences to us de- 
pend not on the condition itself, but on the voluntary im- 
provement or abuse we make of it. Once more: Whether 
we shall be born under the light of the gospel, or the dark- 
ness of Heathen superstition, is at the disposal of him whose 
kingdom ruleth over all; but whether we will hear the joy- 
ful sound and embrace its saving mercy, or turn a deaf ear 
and oppose a hard heart to its life-giving truth, depends on 
ourselves. This is the true and practical distinction which 
it concerns us to make, my hearers, in those things for which 
we are accountable, and on which our present peace and 
future happiness altogether depend; and may serve to show 
the folly and fallacy of pushing metaphysical speculations 
beyond what is plainly revealed, and far beyond what plain 



3M new-tear's day. 

minds can possibly understand; for it is exactly what the 
apostle condemns, as an "intruding into things not seen,, 
vainly puffed up by a fleshly mind." 

The deepest sense of God's sovereign disposal of all events,, 
the fullest acknowledgment that we derive every power and 
faculty, every motive and means from him, so that literally, 
"without him we can do nothing," is in no shape at variance 
with that freedom of will and choice which alone renders us 
capable of religion; of which freedom (whatever may be said 
to the contrary,) we are perfectly conscious, whether in sin- 
ning or refraining; while of any constraining necessity, dis- 
tinct from moral motive, compelling our actions, we are no 
more conscious than of what never had a being. Therefore, 
u let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God; 
for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he 
any man; but every man is tempted when he is drawn away 
of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, 
it hringeth forth sin, and sin when it is finished bringeth 
forth death. Do not err, my beloved brethren," our times 
arc indeed in the hand of God- — they are so for our good' — 
they are s<>, as nevertheless to be compatible with the freest 
choice of the will, the deepest engagement of the heart and 
affections, of reasonable beings; for it is just as inconsistent 
witli the holiness of God, to force sinners to become holy, 
that they may be happy with him forever, as it is repugnant 
to his essential goodness to compel them to sin, that he may 
damn them for ever. Far different, my friends, is the view 
which God himself has given us, of his love to lost sinners, 
in converting the condemnation of sin into the reprieve of 
mercy, the curse of the law into the blessing of the gospel, 
the trials and sufferings of time into the glories of eternity, 
through Jesus Christ our Loud, who, "by the grace of God 
tasted death for every man, that he might redeem us to God 
by his blood" — who came into the world to save sinners, and 
invites even the chief of sinners to come to him for life and 
salvation, assuring them, that he will in no wise cast out him 
that corneth. Thus does God commend his love to us, in 
that, while we were enemies, Christ died for us; how much 
more then shall we be saved by his life. And thus are we 
cautioned against wresting the Scriptures to a sense and 



new-year's day. 34:5 

meaning, which, if true, leaves to poor mortals no medium 
between presumption and despair. 

Another lesson of caution, growing out of the text, is de- 
rived from the circumstances in which it shows us we are 
placed. If neither the limit of our days, nor the course of 
events, are in our own control, then is the reason unanswer- 
ably strong, for care and diligence in the employment of 
what we do possess, because we can never know how soon it 
may be taken from us. And this is evidently the purpose of Al- 
mighty God, in keeping this, with some other, to us equally 
interesting subjects, locked up in the unrevealed counsel of 
his own will. 

On no one point, perhaps, are we more disposed to be pre- 
sumptuous, my friends, than in the disposal of time; no other 
possession do we consider so securely our own; of no other 
do we commit such cruel and inexcusable waste. We know 
there is a bound to human life, which it cannot pass, and 
within that limit we see every age and condition swept away 
by the hand of death. We all profess to believe, and we do 
believe after a sort, that eternal happiness or misery waits 
upon it; and yet how few are wise enough, "so to number 
their days, as to apply their hearts unto wisdom," while 
amono' that few who are considered to be thus wise, what 
remissness in redeeming the time, what coldness in religious 
duties, what conformity to the world, what deadness to God. 
Alas, my Christian brethren, do we indeed believe that our 
days are numbered, that an unseen hand holds the thread of 
our life, that a moment, which we can neither stop or turn 
aside, may realize to us the unspeakable certainties of death 
and judgment, and yet trifle with our souls, starving them on 
the corrupted manna of past experiences, grieving the Spirit 
of grace, and wearying the patience of our God? O, let a 
new year witness a new life. "Forget the things that are be- 
hind," except to increase your repentance, and double your 
diligence in "reaching forth unto the things which are be- 
fore, that you may the more earnestly press toward the mark, 
for the prize of your high calling of God, in Christ Jescjs." 
O, that those of mature age, who have hitherto turned a 
deaf ear to the warnings of God, both in his word and by his 
Spirit, preferring the world to their souls, would now hear 



I 



346 new-year's day. 

the voice of a departed year, calling to them to number how 
many are gone never to return, how few are left in the ordi- 
nary course of nature, and to consider how short they may be 
cut off, in the wise disposal of him in whose hands their times 
are. My friends who stand in this danger, were it to seize 
upon you, could you plead want of time, want of means, 
want of warning? You must answer, jSTo. What then could 
you plead — the mercy of God? But where do you find an 
offer of mercy to the impenitent sinner? Be not deceived — 
wrath, burning wrath, is the portion of his cup. But the 
merits of Christ, you will sa} T — What! the merits of Christ 
pleaded and relied upon by those who have never become 
his disciples, never once confessed him before men, who 
have heard him preached to them for forty years perhaps, 
without receiving him as their Saviour and their God? This 
will never do; this is indeed to make Christ the minister of 
sin. What then can }'ou plead, but unbelief, unwillingness 
to receive the truth in the love of it, undue engagement with 
the world, or at best, often broken resolutions of future 
amendment. But will these be accepted; are such the re- 
turns which a gracious God expects and requires for the 
precious gift of Jesus Christ to die for our sins, to purchase 
repentance for us, and make us heirs of eternal life? JSTo, in- 
deed; faith in Christ, with the fruits of holiness, is the only 
passport to the kingdom of God. Now then, while it is called 
to-day, while your sand yet runs, put away from you these 
refuges of lies, and flee to the cross of Christ; take the Re- 
deemer's yoke upon you and learn of him, and ye shall find 
rest to your souls. 

And O, that the young persons who now hear me would 
hear the caution mv text gives, and remember their Creator 
in the days of their youth, before their affections are perverted 
and their feelings hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. O, 
that they would consider him in whose hand their times are, 
and early put themselves under his fatherly guidance; laying 
the only safe foundation on which to build with assurance, 
an useful and happy life, a blessed death, and a glorious im- 
mortality. 

That we are here but for a season, brethren, and that un- 
certain too, shows the folly of so setting our affections upon 



, new-yeak's day. 347 

temporal things, as to defeat the influence of those which are 
eternal upon our lives. That on this limited and uncertain 
being depends, whether we shall be happy or miserable for 
ever, is the unanswerable argument for seriousness and en- 
gagedness, in working out our everlasting salvation. And 
that our time and means, our power and help for this mighty 
work, are all in the hand of another, who measures out his 
grace in proportion to our improvement of it, is the awaken- 
ing caution, that while this our day of life and grace lasts, 
we should give all diligence to make our calling and election 
sure. O, that these commanding motives may sink deep into 
all your hearts, and the blessing of him who hath the remain- 
der of the spirit, make them fruitful in you to newness of life. 

I come next to the comfort and support which the Chris- 
tian draws from the doctrine of the text. I confine it to the 
Christian; because, though the providence of God embraces 
all creation, causing the sun to rise on the evil and on the 
good, and sending his rain upon the just and upon the unjust, 
so that not even a sparrow falls to the ground without his 
notice and permission; yet it is to him only who hath the 
Lord for his God, that the faith expressed in the words of 
the text, is, in every trial and trouble, in every strait and 
extremity of life, like the shadow of a great rock in a weary 
land. 

If we consider the present life, my brethren, without refer- 
ence to another, we find it compounded of joy and grief, 
enjoyment and suffering, of hope and disappointment, of 
trouble and trial in all their shapes, of failure and success in 
every variety — "so that the race is not to the swift, nor the 
battle to the strong; neither yet bread to the wise, nor riches 
to men of understanding; nor yet favor to men of skill: but 
time and chance happeneth to them all." But if we consider 
it in the light which revelation enables us to use, we see the 
same ingredients in the hand of a master, controlled and 
applied to bring good out of evil, holiness out of sin, happi- 
ness out of misery, and life out of death. In this complex 
and unsearchable mystery, we are appointed to act a part, 
my brethren, and are furnished and instructed for all that is 
required of us; for the rest, we are commanded to depend 
upon the power and goodness of him, who seeth the end 



348 new-tear's day. 

from the beginning, and is alone competent to sustain the 
weight, and direct the motions, and sway the sceptre, of the 
universe. This fundamental truth, made still clearer by the 
revelation of Jesus Christ, the Christian receives, relies and 
lives upon. He sees and understands, that by reason of sin, 
"man that is born of a woman hath but a short time to live 
and is full of misery; he cometh up and is cut down like a 
flower; he fleeth also, as it were a shadow, and never con- 
tinueth in one sta} T ." In the trials and sufferings of this life, 
he is instructed to perceive the infinite wisdom of God at 
work, to purify and prove, to prepare and perfect sinful 
mortals for another and better life. In the gift of his only 
Son, to atone for the guilt of the world, and redeem sinners 
from eternal death, he sees the unreserved love of that God 
who is not willing that any of his creatures should perish. 
And in the daily mercies of his good providence for the sup- 
port of the perishing body, he is taught that the more im- 
portant wants of his soul shall not be neglected. Thus does 
the just man live by faith; his heart is fixed, trusting in the 
Lord. Founded on this rock, the believer is prepared to run 
the race set before him with patience. He knows that he is 
in the hand of him whose faithful promise is recorded, "that 
all things shall work together for good to them that love 
God;" so that whether his lot in life be prosperous or adverse, 
it is the good hand of his God upon him for good. 

Does it please the Almighty to put his secret on his 
tabernacle — setting his family and fortunes in a flourishing 
state; he thankfully acknowledges the giver of every good 
and perfect gift. "Lord, by thy favor, thou hast made my 
mountain to stand strong. Thou anointest my head with 
oil; my cup runneth over. What shall I render unto the 
Lord for all his benefits"- — deeply sensible of the account he 
must give for them, his great study is to apply them to the 
glory of the Giver, by promoting the welfare of all around 
Mm, dealing his bread to the hungry, and help to the poor 
and needy, and clothing the naked with a garment. "Laying 
up a good foundation against the time to come." Making a 
friend of the mammon of unrighteousness, that when earthly 
mansions fail, as they must do, everlasting habitations may 
receive him. His family, raised and trained up in the fear 



NEW-YEAR'S DAT. 34:9 

of the Lord, are partners with him in all his labors of love, 
and early learn, both by precept and example, to trust in 
their father's God, and lay up treasure in heaven. On the 
other hand, does infinite wisdom see fit to prove him with 
adversity, to smite at the root the gourd of his creature com- 
forts, and cast down his flourishing prospects to the ground, 
"It is the Lord," says the believer, "let him do what seem- 
eth him good — shall we receive good at the hand of God, 
and shall we not receive evil?" Blessed be his holy name 
for breaking the snare of worldly delights. Does the fear of 
want for himself and his children assault him? He strength- 
ens his heart against the temptation. The Lord will provide 
— "never saw I the righteous forsaken, or his seed begging 
their bread." Is a domestic calamity added to poverty and 
want, in taking away from him by the hand of death the dear 
partner of all his joys and sorrows, or the child of his affec- 
tions and hopes — he kisses his Father's rod, and while his 
heart is wrung with anguish, exclaims — -"The Lord gave and 
the Lord hath taken away — blessed be the name of the 
Lord." Do friends desert him and join with his enemies to 
persecute and destroy him; he looks to the captain of his sal- 
vation, who was made perfect through sufferings, and glad 
to be counted worthy to suffer with him; he commits his 
cause to the Lord — "my times are in thy hand." my trust is 
in thee — "I will not fear what man can do unto me — thou 
shalt bring forth my righteousness as the light, and my judg- 
ment as the noon day." Is disease commissioned to consume 
his strength, and lay him on the bed of pain and languish- 
ing; the power of faith sustains him, and "makes all his bed 
in his sickness." Does death draw near, attended with the 
anxious thought, that a dear wife and beloved children will 
be exposed to an unfriendly world; even in this extremity 
there is comfort for the Christian — "Leave thy fatherless 
children, I will preserve them alive, and let thy widow trust 
in me." And in the closing scene of this world's tribulation, 
when all its help is in vain, and all its promises prove false 
— when the king of terrors claims his devoted victim — the 
believer meets him to triumph over him. "For we know 
that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved. 
we have a building of God, an house not made with hands 



350 new-teak's DAT. 

— eternal in the heavens. O death, where is thy sting — O 
grave, where is thy victory." Thus, through the trials of 
life, and in the hour of death, does the firm persuasion that 
his times are in the hand of Almighty goodness, power, and 
wisdoin, arm the believer to endure, as seeing him who is 
invisible. And thus do "the light afflictions of this mortal 
life, which are but for a moment, work for" the Christian, 
my brethren, "a far more exceeding and eternal weight of 
glory — while he looks not at the things which are seen, but 
at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen 
are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal." 
But not only in outward trials from the world, but in those 
which are inward and spiritual, does the power of faith give 
him the victory. 

His grand enemy, the believer knows, is vanquished and 
held in a chain by the captain of his salvation, without leave 
from whom he cannot assault him; further than he permits, 
he cannot tempt him. For the trial of faith, and to prove 
obedience, the spiritual enemy hath a little space given him. 
But in every conflict, the faithful promise, that "God will 
not suffer him to be tempted above what he is able to bear, 
but will, with the temptation, also make a way for his 
escape," encourages the Christian to fight manfully, as a 
good soldier of Jesus Christ. With the shield of faith he 
quenches all the fiery darts of the wicked — with the sword 
of the Spirit he cuts up the artful deceits of Satan trans- 
formed into an angel of light — with the hope of salvation for 
a helmet, he resists even unto blood, should he thereto be 
callt- d, and having put on the whole armor of God, he is able 
to stand in the evil day. But should the trial be sore, and 
the heart and the flesh failing, his Lord's voice — "My grace 
is sufficient for thee, let no one take thy crown" — renews his 
spiritual strength and gives him the victory. Yea, even 
though the enemy prevail against him — for where is the man 
that liveth and sinneth not — the Christian does not yield 
himself a captive. He falls fighting, and with this word of 
faith in his mouth — "Rejoice not over me, O mine enemy. 
When I fall I shall rise again. When I sit in darkness, the 
Lord shall be a light unto me." In deep repentance he 
tumbles himself before God — in earnest prayer he implores 



new-year's DAT. 351 

through Jesus Christ the pardon of his guilt and unbelief — 
with groanings that cannot be uttered he waits until the Lord 
have mercy upon him — learning from every failure to dis- 
trust himself more and more — to lean upon the arm of the 
Lord more unreservedly, and to feel and say with the apos- 
tle, "when I am weak, then am I strong." 

Thus may we draw from the doctrine of the text, my 
brethren, the strong consolation which the promised help 
and favor of God should bring to our souls. Our times be- 
ing in his hand, nothing can harm us without his leave; with 
him the very hairs of our head are all numbered; and greater 
is he that is for us than he that is against us. But where 
shall we find the Christians who thus live by faith? Alas! 
"when the son of man cometh shall he find faith upon the 
earth?" Nevertheless, my brethren, it is God's gift to us, if 
we would only exercise it. "Unto you it is given to believe." 
Let us then arise and shake ourselves from the dust of worldly 
cares, from the snare of its vain delights, and in the holy 
comfort of his protection and disposal of us, in the blessed 
hope of his mercy through Jesus Christ, let us renew our 
trust in his power and goodness; our obedience to his most 
holy law; our submission to his most righteous government, 
that in newness of life we may henceforth walk by faith and 
not by sight. 

In the application of this subject I trust that you all an- 
ticipate me, my hearers, and each for himself feels the bear- 
ing of the subject upon the present season, and the meditations 
it supplies. I trust also that some of you are resolved, by 
the grace of God, to consider well the importance of time; 
that it is the great inclusive talent, upon which the value of all 
the rest depend; that it is the day of grace to us sinners; yea 
more, that it is the prelude to eternity, for on time well or 
ill employed depends the everlasting happiness or misery of 
each one of us. 

Through the sparing mercy of our God, we are permitted, 
my brethren and friends, to see another year; but it is beyond 
any reasonable calculation that we shall all see the end of it. 
Some must go, but whether you or me, who can tell? Hope 
may flatter, and presumption may be confident; but both 
may be deceived. Our times are in the hand of another, and 



352 new-yeak's day. 

none can lift the veil, which hides either his own, or the 
time of another's departure. And why should we wish to 
know it? The event itself is the only certainty we are pos- 
sessed of, though the time be hid from us; and to know this, 
is all that can be useful to any reasonable being, because it 
presents motive sufficiently powerful to urge to the most dili- 
gent application, without repressing exertion or encouraging 
delay, one or other of which would be the certain consequence 
of more knowledge on the subject. 

To know that our days are numbered, that the noiseless 
flood of time is sweeping us along with it into the boundless 
ocean of eternity, is a startling thought. But alas! how few 
entertain it, or count its worth with the risk of its uncertainty, 
except for some purpose of worldly advantage. How few 
consider that time is a witness, the faithful unimpeachable 
witness of heaven. Days and months and years pass away, 
unheeded perhaps, yet loaded with the record of actions, un- 
noticed perhaps, yet irrevocable — until they shall once more 
appear for or against us at the bar of God. We may waste 
them in folly, or bury them in thoughtlessness and levity, 
but together with our dead bodies shall they arise, and bring 
with them the color they now receive from our lives. 

Were this considered in its true light, my brethren, we 
should not see such numbers of our fellow creatures, possessed 
of reasonable minds, and favored with the light of the gospel, 
so entirely taken up with business and pleasure, that the 
great business of being saved, the lasting pleasure of being 
in favor with God, is but little thought of, if not neglected al- 
together. We should not see so many young people growing 
up around us, trained only for the part they are to act here 
for a little while, leaving the one thing needful wholly un- 
provided for. Perhaps the decay of religion, the loss of that 
lively impression which its vital power communicates to the 
soul, is in nothing more marked, than in the neglect mani- 
fested even by professing parents, for the religious education 
of their children. As Christians they should know, that the 
world is a great pitfall for their children's souls, of which it 
is their prime duty to warn them; the insidious enemy, against 
whose deceitful blandishments it should be their chief care to 
arm them. Experience must have shown them the uncer- 



new-year's DAT. 353 

taintj and insecurity of the fairest and most flattering wordly 
dependence, while the religion they profess must have taught 
them that there is but one antidote against the poison of 
worldly love; one strait and narrow way to pass through the 
snares spread out, though concealed, under its alluring but 
destructive pleasures; one shield against its enmity; one com- 
fort under its tribulation; one refuge from the storm and 
tempest of its destruction. And can those parents be really 
sincere in a profession of religion, who suffer any considera- 
tions of custom or advantage or expediencj', to interfere with 
their first and earliest duty, in pre-occupying the hearts of 
their children with the serious things of God and religion? 
Can they remember their solemn baptismal covenant, re- 
nouncing for them the pomps and vanities of this wicked 
world, when the whole course of modern education, especially 
for females, serves onlv to foster and increase those evil 
natural propensities in them? O unthinking parents, take 
chese truths home with you, and consider how little it will 
profit you and them, that they should glitter and shine here 
for a little while, and then drop into the darkness of ever- 
lasting night. 

Surely these are weighty and unanswerable arguments to 
induce parents, and those who have the care of youth, to stop 
short in the present unprofitable and ruinous course. Surely 
also they should be equally powerful to induce the careless 
and thoughtless to pause a moment in the race of vanity, and 
count the cost of turning a deaf ear to the warnings and in- 
vitations of the gospel, to the reason and conscience of their 
own hearts, to the dearest interests of their immortal souls, 
all suspended on the time now given to prepare for eternity, 
perhaps on the present year. O that they would but count 
up how many years are gone, loaded with sin and guilt, how 
few may remain to perfect that repentance, and attain that 
holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord. Gracious 
God, impress upon all our hearts, the solemn but neglected 
truth, that our limit is fixed, our sand is running, and by a 
decree which we cannot reverse, the hour is numbered when 
to each one of us time shall be no more. O that it would 
please tbee to strengthen the hearts of thy people to be fol- 
lowers of GoD as dear children, walking in love, and living 
[Vol. 1 ,— *23.] 



354 new-year's day. 

by faith; that their light may shine to the glory of thy name, 
and thy work revive among us to the increase of pure and 
undefined religion. And O that it may be given to the dis- 
sipated and thoughtless, to the careless and negligent, to the 
lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God, to discern this 
time, to see in the flight of another year how much is taken 
away from the short and uncertain period on which eternity 
depends. O that they may consider how many of their 
precious years have fled away from them, never to return; 
that in the patience and forbearance of God hitherto, they 
may see that goodness which should lead them to repentance; 
that in the mercy which hath brought them to the promise 
of another year, they may learn the comfortable truth that 
God hath not appointed them to wrath, but to obtain salva- 
tion through our Lokd Jesus Christ. that they may con- 
sider the time past of their life more than sufficint to have 
wrought the will of the flesh, and this day hear the voice of 
the Son of God, calling to them by the gospel — "Awake thou 
that sleepest and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give 
thee light." 



SERMON IX. 



new-year's day.* 



Hebrews i. 12. (Last clause.) 
"But thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail." 

Of whom speaketk the prophet this? we may ask, my 
brethren, as did the pious Ethiopian, when sitting in his 
chariot he read the book of the prophet Isaiah. For surely 
the description of a being, whose properties thus transcend 
our experience, and in this attribute of unchangeableness, or 
independence of time, soars beyond the limit of created things, 
and remains unaifected by that which is silently, but surely 
bringing to an end, as well that which is seen, as that which 
j)erceives; must be calculated to awaken in our hearts a feel- 
ing of awe and reverence, and leads to such contemplations 
of his eternal power and godhead, as shall become the fore- 
runners of that fear of him which is the beginning of wisdom. 
To this, indeed, every thing we see, should lead us, my hearers, 
for it is the lowest result of reason to conclude, that creation 
must have a creator, and the most noble exercise of the facul- 
ties conferred on us, to travel through the works to the work 
master, and "as the heavens declare the glory of God, and 
the firmament showeth his handy work" — to make them praise 
him too, through that favored creature to whom it is given 
thus to adore creation's Lord and man's Redeemer. O that 
this reasonable service had more of reason's sons and daughters 
under its influence — that the foundation being laid in the 
consideration, knowledge, and fear of God, the superstructure 
might grow up unto an holy temple in the Lord. 

* The following is inserted upon the authority of Rt. Rev. Bishop Green: 
"This was the last sermon preached by Bp. R. It was delivered on the 
1st January, 1830, in Christ Church, Raleigh. Being too feeble to ascend 
the Pulpit, or even to stand upon his feet, he read it, seated in the Chancel, 
over the very spot where his remains were, at his own request, interred » 
Mttle more than two months after." 



-56 ^ew-yeae's day. 



t» 



In the transition from such a glorious and unchangeable 
Being, to ourselves, how vast the distance, how infinite the 
difference, mv brethren, and vet it is but a single step for 
the mind to take, so wonderfully are we constituted for our 
own o-ood and his glory. In this transition, however, is con- 
tained the speaking application of that solemn lesson which 
our vanishing lives present in the close of every day, and 
more impressively in the termination of another of those few 
and fleeting years, which bound our earthly pilgrimage. 
And in the contrast between Him who is ever the same, and 
whose years shall not fail, and beings who are daily drawing 
to their end. we might learn, mv friends, "so to number our 
days as to apply our hearts unto wisdom." Alas! that so- 
few permit these first lines as it were, in religion, to occupy 
their thoughts. Alas! that such multitudes see nothing in 
the silent flight of time but the fulfilment or disappointment 
of the little hope that is bounded by this world, and who 
turn away with disgust from the awakening truth, that every 
hour of lite is but a step towards the grave, and every year 
of time a more rapid flight towards the boundless ocean of 
eternity. Yet so it is, mv brethren and friends, we meet 
this morning a year nearer to the close of all our worldly ex- 
pectations, a year nearer to all that we hope or fear in the 
world to come. The thoughtless, impenitent sinner — nearer 
by a whole year to the gnawings of the worm which never 
dies, t<> the torments of the fire that never shall be quenched. 
The believing Christian, by the same period nearer to that 
joy unspeakable and full of glory, which awaits the righteous. 
Methink* our very countenances should show something of 
our respective feelings and states, on so tremendous a con- 
sideratipn. But alas! custom and habit have so strengthened 
the original delusion— ''Thou shalt not surely die," — that 
both saint and sinner have learnt to escape from the solemn, 
warning which the flight of time conveys alike to all. But 
if there is truth with him who is set forth in my text as un- 
changeable, all these consequences, and many more of great 
importance to us, flow from the simple fact that we are all 
so much nearer to the account we have to give in to Him. 
as a year is greater than a day, and of course so much nearer 
to happiness or misery eternal. Now, my dear hearers, let 



new-year's day. 357 

me ask you with all the affectionate earnestness of. one truly 
desirous of your highest good, what advantage can there be 
in smothering up the awakenings which so plain a statement 
of your actual condition must occasion in your hearts? "Will 
ruin be any thing else than ruin, because it comes upon you 
by surprise and unprovided for? Or will it not double de- 
struction, if I may so speak, to look back, and see how often 
and how easily this destruction might have been escaped — 
with how much long-suffering and forbearance, God waited 
and warned — and with what carelessness and obstinacy you 
disregarded and resisted the counsels of his love? Let me 
then entreat you to make a better use of this renewed proof 
of God's patience. And while we congratulate each other 
on being yet left in reach of the means of grace, let me ex- 
hort you to go along with me in those meditations which flow 
from the text, and from the time, from the unchangeable 
nature of God, and the short, and withal, most uncertain con- 
dition of man's present life. 

"But thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail." 
There is a sublimity, my brethren, in the whole passage, and 
a bearing upon my present purpose, which inclines me to 
read it to you: "And thou, Lord, in the beginning, hast laid 
the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work 
of thine hands. They shall perish, but thou remainest; and 
they all shall wax old as doth a garment, and as a vesture 
shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed, but thou 
art the same, and thy years shall not fail." In this most de- 
vout and impressive address of the apostle, we learn from 
the context, that the person to whom it was offered up, was 
the Lord Jesus Christ, and we feel, beyond the reach of 
cavil, that it is such an acknowledgment of his essential di- 
vinity, as causes that doctrine, and the divine inspiration 1 and 
authority of the Scriptures, to stand or fall together. 

The consideration of the unchangeableness of Almighty 
God, not only in his nature and essence, but in the appoint- 
ments and administration of his government of the world, is 
the only foundation on which faith can be exercised. A be- 
ing who was either fickle in purpose, or weak or limited in 
power, could in no sense be the object of such trust and con- 
fidence as is always implied in the Scripture notion of faith. 



358 new-year's day. 

Hence the vital importance of the divinity of Christ to the 
faith of his followers, and the deadly hostility to the best in- 
terests of man, and the damnable gnilt of those who, on any 
pretence, endeavor to shake it; for it is most evident to who- 
ever reads the Scriptures with attention, that the hope of the 
Christian is so built on Jesus Christ, as the propitiation for 
the sins of the whole world — so limited on his power to save — 
so dependent on his grace to sanctify — that if he is not infinite 
in his nature, omnipotent and omnipresent, he cannot meet 
the requirements of faith — he cannot be an object of lawful 
worship — he cannot be present, and privy to the hearts of all 
his worshippers, in all parts of the world, this day; nor can 
their hope of eternal life in him be sure and steadfast, if that 
life be not in himself, bv inherent divinity. With admira- 
ble propriety, therefore, (if indeed we ought to use such a 
phrase of an inspired man,) with admirable propriety does 
St. Paul preface his argument to his Hebrew brethren, for 
the superiority of the gospel over the legal dispensation, with 
the assertion of the divinity of its author; and this not for- 
mally, but incidentally, as it were, and in a strain of the most 
sublime devotional feeling of which we have any example; 
and thus it is with every devout Christian in the manifesta- 
tion of his Saviour. He is able to say with St. Thomas, "My 
Lord and my God,'' and with unshaken confidence to depend 
on the power and faithfulness- of him whose love for his soul 
overcame the infinite distance between the Creator and crea- 
ture, and brought him from heaven to earth to die for his 
salvation. It is this alone, my brethren and hearers, which 
gives to Christianity the sublime character which belongs to 
it. Deprive it of the divinity of its author, and you divest 
it of its spirit, and of its power; and you cast a veil over the 
glory, and beauty, and efficacy of God, manifest in the fiesb, 
to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself; and you send the 
gospel forth into the world, like Samson shorn of his strength, 
to make sport for the sons and daughters of unbelief and un- 
godliness. This is a cardinal point, my brethren, in the faith 
we profess; but I fear is too often taken for granted without 
being considered and dwelt upon, and carried out to all the 
invigorating, heart-cheering consequences which flow from 
it, not only to the furtherance of the power of godliness in 






NEW-YEAu's DAY. 359 

our lives, but as a strong tower of defence, against the 
afflictions and sufferings which belong to the present life. 

Having thus noticed, though in a cursory manner, what 
forms so very prominent a part of my text, I come now to 
those considerations which grow out of the contrast between 
the unchangeable, everlasting being of God, and the fleeting, 
transitory existence of man. 

First, no circumstance, it appears to me, is better calcu- 
lated to invest the mind of man with a just sense of his con- 
dition as a mortal creature. Of this, it may be thought we 
stand in need of no better monitor than the daily waste of 
human life, than the dropping into the grave, one after 
another, of our friends and neighbors; but experience tells 
us, that when we measure ourselves with others, we always 
strike the balance in our own favor, and in nothing is it more 
strikingly exemplified than in the case of our common mor- 
tality. There is no escape from the fact that all are appoint- 
ed to die, and while we can see, and express, clearly enough^ 
the effect which this unalterable destiny should have upon 
others, we contrive, pretty generally, to elude it as respects 
ourselves; in other words, we do not permit it to bear upon 
our individual connexion with the common fate, but think 
and act as if we were of a different race of beings; for re- 
member, my friends, to admit a fact, is neither to believe or 
to apply it, and in a case of this kind, general admission is 
cpiite consistent with practical denial. 

Now of this, cannot I draw a proof from the consciences of 
all present? I think I can, in this way. Another year of the 
limited being of young and old, is gone for ever; eternity, 
therefore, is so much nearer to each — but has this been the 
thought which the fact has presented to us; has this been the 
solemn certainty which has dwelt upon our minds, and led 
us to count the cost at which such weighty portions of our 
time, as years, are lightly esteemed? Have the careless and 
thoughtless heard, in the departure of another year, the 
funeral knell, as it were, of their day of grace? Have they 
realized the awakening summons of time, as it passes on into 
eternity, that they must shortly follow? But why do I ask 
the question? To the careless and the thoughtless there is no 
eternity, as yet, realized — they have never raised their 



360 new-yeak's DAT. 

thoughts to that unchangeable Being who sits upon the circle 
of the heavens, and, himself unaffected by time, beholds its 
mighty flood rolling them, and all sublunary things, onward 
to the consummation of his righteous judgment on their im- 
provement or abuse of his wondrous love and undeserved 
mercv: vet by God's blessing it may startle them, and lead 
to reflection, and thus be a proof from their consciences, of 
the danger of resting in the mere knowledge or admission of 
religious truths. 

Have the followers of the world heard the voice of the de- 
parted year, calling upon them to consider what agreement 
their pursuits and their pleasures have with that unseen world 
to which they are so fast hastening? Alas, time is estimated 
by them, only as it accelerates or retards the gain or the en- 
joyment of earthly things; it is the profit or loss of their es- 
tates, and not of their souls, by which they measure the flight 
of time, and calculate the improvement of it. Yet ask them, 
and thev admit that thev are to die — but it is yet a great -\vav 
off; ask them, and none can better tell you how hard it is to 
< ivertake a lost year, in worldly matters, and therefore, they 
are the better able to estimate how hard, and almost impos- 
sible it must be, to undo a course of sin, and tread back the 
path of folly, and overtake, not a year only, but years, of 
grace and waiting mercy, gone, never to return, until they 
appear as witnesses against them, at the bar of God; and thus 
do their consciences also, speak the same language, and give 
them a lesson of wisdom, which I pray God they may hear. 

Have the aged, on Avhose heads the hand of time has shed 
the garb of winter, heard this, perhaps last, messenger of 
God's mercy, calling to them in his flight, "set thine house 
in order, for this year thou shalt die?" Alas, my hearers, 
that even with such, the summons should be disregarded; for 
what more common in this Christian land, than old age and 
impiety; than carelessness and unconcern under the warnings 
of even seventy years, and than consciences satisfled with 
admission, but dead to consequences — dead to imjirovement? 
What can it leacj to, my friends, but that second death which 
shall never die? 

Have Christians, whether old or j-oung, opened their ears 
and their hearts to the passing warning of that silent monitor, 



new-year's DAT. 361 

who is gone to report them to their Lord? Has the season 
been a time of review, of recollection, of repentance, of 
prayer, of thankfulness, of renewed dedication to God? Has 
it been a season of spiritual refreshment and holy comfort in 
God's continued favor? Or have the common forms of Chris- 
tian profession, seen only in the world, hid from them that 
all-seeing eye, who searches the reins and the heart? Alas, 
my brethren, must our consciences also witness to this gen- 
eral neglect of so plain and pointed a monitor? Shall our 
salvation, which is now surely nearer than when we first be- 
lieved, stir up no feeling of earnestness, anxiousness, I had 
almost said impatience, to reap so great reward? no sense of 
past mercies, no faith and hope of future goodness, and send 
us forth to another year of duty and trial, more engaged to 
do the will of our heavenly Father, and adorn the doctrine 
of God our Saviour? O let not the spirit of the world quench 
and grieve the spirit of God, nor any of his mercies or warn- 
ings pass without acknowledgment and improvement. Re- 
member that he who is unchangeable, hath said, "Unto him 
that hath shall be given, and he shall have more abundance; 
but from him that hath not, shall be taken away even that 
which he hath." And that this is spoken, primarily, of im- 
provement, and can have no other practical meaning, let the 
honest witness within you, at this serious moment, be attended 
to, whether for encouragement or reproof, that the fruit may 
be peace, and the effect of peace quietness and assurance 
forever. 

There is however one more circumstance, growing out of 
the consideration of our connection with time, which must 
not be omitted, and that is its uncertainty' — a consideration 
which is confined to no particular description of persons, but 
bears alike upon all, whether believers or unbelievers, whe- 
ther worldlings or Christians, whether young or old. 

By this appointment of heaven's wisdom and mercy in the 
grant of time to creatures on trial, all the arguments and ex- 
hortations to diligence drawn from a limited duration, are 
infinitely increased and strengthened. An event certain to all, 
but uncertain in its approach and application to any, is in 
itself an awakening reflection. We know not what a day, 
what an hour may bring forth; how this little congregation 



362 new-year's day. 

may be disposed of in the current year, we can none of us 
say; the eternal condition of all our souls may be at stake. 
Can there, then, with this knowledge confirmed to us by ex- 
perience, be the shadow of excuse for putting off till to-mor- 
row? Is there a heart present, that feels not at this moment 
the force of such an appeal to its own uncertainty of conti- 
nued being? Yet alas! how weak will the feeling be with 
too many ere one little hour is past, O let the commence- 
ment of another year of health and hope, be to us all, my 
hearers, the commencement of that fear of the Lord, which 
is the beginning of wisdom; so shall we be prepared alike 
for the vicissitudes of time, and the unchangeable realities 
of eternity. 

Secondly — Another consideration to be drawn from the 
unchangeable nature of God, extends that attribute to his 
jrarposes, as well as to his being; and with this we are more 
concerned, perhaps, my hearers, than with his eternity of 
existence, because it is in our conformity to these only, that 
we can derive any rational hope of his favor. Hence it fol- 
lows, that whatever is in any way opposed to him, either in 
the holiness of his nature, or the supremacy of his govern- 
ment, must in fact be in a state of hostility against him; and 
as such, exposed to whatever vengeance the vindication of 
his sovereign dominion over all created things shall require. 
Now as this opposition can only be manifested by rational 
creatures, and by them only in the violation of the law or 
rule given them to keep; therefore they alone can become 
guilty of sin; and as sin is thus a direct opposition, at one 
and the same time to the holiness of God's nature and the 
dignity of his government, it must either be atoned for, or 
punished, according to the conditions of the law. This we 
all know, my hearers, both from the nature of government, 
which would cease to be such, could it be opposed with im- 
punity; from the nature of God, who cannot look upon sin 
with the least degree of allowance; and from the express de- 
claration of his revealed will, "the soul that sinneth, it shall 
die." And this his purpose is just as unchangeable as his 
nature and essence. Yet he is a God of mercy as well as a 
God of justice; a God of love as well as a God of vengeance; 
and hath most wonderfully provided for sinful mortals a full 



new-year's day. 363 

atonement for sin, in which, it was at once punished, and 
forgiven; a reprieve from the sentence of death, denounced 
against them, and means of reconciliation and return to his 
favor. Of this, the gospel of Christ is the authentic decla- 
ration to the whole world; the warrant, for even the chief of 
sinners, to expect and obtain mercy upon repentance, and at 
the same time the most solemn confirmation of his unchange- 
able purpose to destroy forever, the impenitent and ungodly. 
Hence it follows most undeniably, that the sinner must 
change, or perish forever; must be altered and amended, not 
only in the outward deportment of his life, but in. the very 
source and spring of his actions, the heart. And as all this 
must be done in the short and uncertain period of the pre- 
sent life, we may, from this alone, form some estimate of the 
importance of time; some judgment of the danger, as well as 
wickedness, of delaying our repentance, and be moved forth- 
with to address ourselves to God, for pardon of our past de- 
lay, and for grace to enable us to bring forth fruit meet for 
repentance. In this view the past year may be our monitor, 
for all of us that are yet to run, in our daily shortening limit 
of mercy' — may be made to us, by the blessing of God, what 
the death of a friend is often sanctified to, the turning point 
of our present and everlasting happiness. O that God may 
thus be pleased to sanctify it to every sinner present. O that 
his unchangeable purpose to punish sin, evidenced even by 
his love to sinners, in the gift of Jesus Christ, and of time 
and means to regain his favor, and eternal life, may move 
them to that change of life, and to seek that change of heart, 
whicl* he is ever ready, by his Holy Spirit, to work in them. 
Surely the time past of this life may suffice the youngest sin- 
ner present, to have wrought the will of the flesh, to have 
continued in enmity against God, and exposed to his wrath. 
Surely the sparing mercy of God may soften the hardest 
heart, and melt down the most obdurate temper. Surely the 
love of Christ may constrain the most determined sinner to 
submit to the sceptre of his grace, and take upon him the 
light yoke and easy burthen of the gospel. And surely the 
uncertainty of how long this may be possible, in an hourly 
shortening day of life and grace, may start them to escape 
from everlasting burnings, and seek the salvation of their 



36-i new-year's day. 

immortal souls. "Awake, then, thou that sleepest, and arise 
from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light." Now is the 
accepted time, now is the day of salvation — another year, 
another month, yea another day, may place thee beyond the 
reach of that mercy, which now invites, and waits to bless 
thy soul with the salvation of God. 

Thirdly — A further consideration of the unchangeable-' 
ness of God in his nature and purpose, gives to the Christian 
that full assurance which enables him to meet the various 
trials of this life with patience, and in connexion with his- 
own short and limited state of being, enables him to look 
beyond them, and to triumph over them. 

"Our light afflictions, -oik-h are but for a moment," says 
St. Paul, "work out for us a far more exceeding and eternal 
weight of glory — while we look not at the things which are 
seen, but at the things which are not seen." In which pas- 
sage we find the unchangeableness of God, and the shortness 
of human life, combined together as the ground of the faith 
and patience of the saints. Every passing year of our life, 
therefore, my brethren, if rightly considered, is gain to us in 
two respects. It shortens the time allotted to trial, and brings 
us so much nearer to our reward. It abridges the period of 
s< >rf< >w and suffering, should such be our lot, in the wise pro- 
vidence of God, and thus lightens the burthen — and it dou- 
bles the gracinusness of prosperity, while it counteracts the 
ensnaring character of such a state, by its uncertainty, and 
by the nearer approach of that glory which excelleth. Thus 
are all things made to work together for good to them that 
love Gob, to them who arc the called according to bis pur- 
pose. And are any present not of that number? God forbid 
that any should think so. For if the testimony of God is of 
any worth — the day and its appointments — his sparing mercy 
in the grant of more time — the counsel and invitation of his 
true and faithful word, yea our whole gospel state, are wit- 
nesses, "that he hath not appointed us to wrath, but to ob- 
tain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ." Yet true it is, 
that though many are called, but few are chosen. And why? 
Bccau>e they will not enter in at the strait gate; because 
they prefer the broad and beaten way that leadeth to de- 
struction, to the narrow way of life — and not because a gra- 



new-year's DAT. 365 

cions and merciful God either withholds his grace, or with- 
stands their desire. No, my dear young friends, and halt- 
ing, hesitating fellow-sinners, of all ages, whatever the testi- 
mony of men may be, this witness of God is greater. He 
hath set before you an open door, which neither the force 
nor the fraud of man can shut against you, unless you believe 
men rather than God — unless you withstand those drawings 
of the Father, wherewith he would bring you to his Son — ■ 
unless you break away from those cords of love with which 
Christ would bind you to himself, in the triumph of his cross, 
over sin, death, and hell. And every Christian present can 
tell you, that it was not because he could not, but because he 
would not, that he did not long before enter upon the joy 
.and peace of a believing state. lie can look back upon 
many awakenings which he stifled, and many seasons of 
mercy, when God would, but he would not — and it is his 
sentiment of deepest thankfulness, and highest admiration 
of God's mercy, that he was not provoked to abandom him, 
but strove with him by his holy and loving Spirit, until a 
better mind was renewed in him. O, my dear brethren, 
what miracles of grace are we debtors for. The common 
argument resorted to by the narrowers of God's grace to a 
sinful world — that because a sinner does not come in until a 
certain time, that, therefore, Iip could not come sooner, is, 
with all the art and cunning of its construction, both unscrip- 
tural and illogical — as is that still more dangerous conclu- 
sion, that because a sinner never comes, but dies impenitent 
— that, therefore, God withheld from him the means of grace, 
because he was a vessel appointed to wrath. These are not 
i"he doctrines of Jesus Christ, though we may draw them, 
and some support for them, by wresting the Scriptures from 
their true purpose. His doctrine, who gave himself a ran- 
som for all, is, repent, believe, and be saved — his invitation 
is, come unto me all the ends of the earth, and be saved. 
His encouragement for us to come is, him that cometh unto 
me, I will in no wise cast out. ' In this language he speaks 
to us all, this day, my hearers; and by the vanishing away 
of another of our years, tries to awaken us to the supreme 



i 



mportance of preparation for that day, when he shall appeal 
in his glorious majesty — when the heavens shall flee away 



366 new-tear's day. 

from his presence — when all the proud and all who have 
done wickedly — when those who know not God, and obey 
not his gospel, shall be fuel for those everlasting burnings, 
in which sin and sinners shall be shut up for ever, no more 
to vex the children of God, or spoil the beauty and mar the 
happiness of a new creation. 

O, come that blessed day and its blessed enjoyments — but 
come first, in God's mercy, that day of power, in converting 
grace, turning the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of 
the just, and the hearts of his children to their Father which 
is in heaven. O, come first that day of the Son of man, 
which shall establish his kingdom in every heart, and pre- 
pare this little congregation of redeemed creatures to meet 
the Shepherd and Bishop of their souls with joy and not with 
.grief. — Amen — even so come Lokd Jesus, with the blessings 
of thy grace upon our souls, that the years which remain in 
thy gift may witness for us, in the great day of eternity, that 
warning was not thrown away upon us, and time and oppor- 
tunity abused, to the dishonor of God, and to the destruction 
of those immortal souls whom thou didst redeem, and call 
by thy gospel to an inheritance of glory and blessedness. 

Now, to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy 
Ghost, be ascribed, &c. &c. 



SEEMON X. 

ASCENSION OF CHRIST. 



St. John vi. 62. 
"What and if ye shall see the Son of Man ascend up, where he was before?" 

Hard sayings in religion are exceedingly multiplied to 
that description of persons, whose affections and habits are 
determined chiefly by the gratifications and advantages of 
the present life. So far as the morality of the gospel is op- 
posed to the debaucheries and profligacy of dissolute conduct, 
it is approved of; but when the doctrines of Christianity are 
applied to the regulation of the heart as well as of the out- 
ward life; when the spiritual nature of its requirements is 
brought to bear upon the indulgences and enjoyments which 
the rules of fashionable life endeavor to keep within the 
boundary of decency and decorum, then it is that the carnal 
mind is offended, and its ingenuity set to work to frame some 
excuse for going back from that imitation of our blessed 
Lord, which is required of all his true disciples. Yet these 
hard sayings have in themselves no difficulty, insuperable to 
honest endeavor, either to apprehend or to practice them. 
As fundamentals of the religion we have received from 
heaven, they are within the reach of our assisted powers, to 
apply them to that attainment of renewed desires and affec* 
tions which constitute our fitness for those mansions of blessed- 
ness whither our Saviour Christ is gone before, to prepare a 
place for his faithful followers. The difficulty is wholly in 
ourselves, and it is one which every consideration of reason, 
of duty, of interest, and of obligation, bind us to counteract, 
and to overcome. 

Nor has heaven been unmindful of this ruinous propensity 
of our alienated hearts. To the declarations of inspired 
truth, are superadded the conclusions of the plainest reason, 
the results of a most extended and continually recurring ex- 
perience, the facts in the history of Christianity, and more 



S6S ASCENSION OF CIIKIST. 

directly, the facts m the personal history of the author and 
finisher of our faith. These all bear testimony against the 
delusion of neglecting the care of our souls, because of some 
presumed difficulty in that system of faith and obedience, by 
which only, their everlasting welfare can be secured. 

To the fact of our Lord's ascension into heaven, in par- 
ticular, is referred the refutation of an objection of this de- 
scription, taken by the Jews who had become his disciples, 
to the doctrines which he taught. "Doth this offend you," 
says our Lord, "what, and if ye shall see the Son of Man as- 
cend up, where he was before?" What will then become of 
your objections to the reception of my doctrine, when you 
have such visible proof of its being divine and true, as my 
ascent into heaven, who came down from thence, to make 
known to you the will of God, and to prepare a new and 
living way for your return to your Father's house? 

The inquiry put in my text, therefore, naturally directs 
our meditations to what forms the subject matter of that pub- 
lic and private instruction which the Church has provided 
for the edification of her members, on this day, and will form 
the ground work of my discourse. 

First — To that class of persons who withhold themselves 
from any profession or practice of the duties of religion, on 
the assumption that there are difficulties attending it, which 
they are unable to overcome, the consideration of the nature 
and strength of the testimony hereby given, to the divine 
origin and truth of Christianity, is full of the most awaken- 
ing reflections, and if dwelt upon with any seriousness and 
sincerity of mind, must put to flight all objections of this 
sort; — for, I pray you, would the God of truth give this con- 
vincing demonstration to the truth of a system of religion, 
which those, for whose benefit it was contrived and revealed, 
could neither apprehend or practice? The supposition is im- 
pious, and ought to strike with dismay all (if indeed there. 
are any who really entertain it,) w r ho resort to this cover of a 
more hardened antipathy to the gospel; for to what else can 
it be attributed, but to the love of sin, if men reject the only 
remedy against its fatal effects, because of some supposed 
difficulty in the obtaining or the taking it? When inordinate 
affection for the riches and pleasures of the world, when over 



ASCENSION OF CHKIST. 369 

engagement with its occupations, or pursuit of its frivolous 
dissipations, shelter themselves against the claims of religion, 
under the plea of difficulty, what else is it, but a clear de- 
monstration of the carnal mind, which is enmity against 
God, a speaking proof that such persons prefer the gains and 
the business, the profits and the pleasures of the world, to 
the favor of God, and everlasting felicity in his heavenly 
kingdom. Certainly the wisdom of God puts this interpreta- 
tion upon their conduct, and will deal with them accordingly. 

But the objection is not merely impious — it is not alto- 
gether a pretext, and consequently the more sinful; because, 
no attempt having been made by them, either to ascertain 
what the difficulty really amounts to, or in what way it may 
be overcome, it is a gratuitous objection, and as such must 
be classed with those strong delusions which God not only 
judicially permits, but which he sends upon those "who re- 
ceive not the love of the truth that they might be saved." 
In a concern so important as the salvation of the soul, no- 
thing but endeavors, the effort of conviction, can manifest 
sincerity and secure success; and as the bare possibility that 
the condition of eternity may be well or ill affected by the 
course of the present life, is sufficient to convince every rea- 
sonable mind of the great importance of religion, it is equally 
sufficient to condemn the neglect of indifference, the evasions 
of artifice, and the opposition of unbelief, to those high and 
concerning truths, which God hath revealed to the world, by 
our Lord Jesus Christ. 

Religion being a provision of heaven's mercy, for the bene- 
fit of mankind, a contrivance of heaven's wisdom, to deliver 
them from the dominion of sin and eternal death, and a 
proof of the love of God even towards his enemies; a very 
malignant character is thereby stamped upon every shade of 
opposition to its requirements. And when, in addition to 
this, we consider its further and more gracious purpose of 
preparing sinful creatures for the presence and enjoyment of 
Gop in everlasting glory, the folly and wickedness of all ob- 
jections to its wholesome discipline, and life-giving doctrine, 
is enhanced beyond all power of expression. Yet the course 
and condition of the Christian world is such, that the oppo- 
nents of the gospel, whether direct, or indirect, are by far 
[Vol. 1,— *24.] 



370 ASCENSION OF CHEIST. 

the most numerous body, and thereby call very loudly upon 
professing Christians to examine carefully what occasion 
their lives may give to cast reproach upon religion, and there- 
by increase the difficulties, and strengthen the opposition, of 
many, who might otherwise be brought to a better mind. 

Secondly, then, to professors of religion who yet so mingle 
the world with the outward duties of religion as to give its 
adversaries the advantage against the gospel, by the incon- 
sistency of their lives with its strict and holy requirements 
— to such persons the arguments derived from the ascension 
of the Lord Jescs Chkist, in proof of the religion he taught 
and established in the world, are all strengthened and enforced 
by their own voluntary adoption of the conditions on which 
the promises of God in the gospel are suspended. Hence, 
when professors of religion are seen as intent upon the world's 
reward, and as free and frequent in its vain and proscribed, 
enjoyments, as those who make no profession of the fear of 
God, the conclusion is at once, and justly, drawn, that they 
do not believe, what nevertheless they profess; and encour- 
agement is herebv given to the thoughtless and the dissolute, 
to persevere in their iniquity, while the ungodly are furnished 
with means to triumph against the gospel, and the name 
of God is blasphemed through those who are pledged to pro- 
mote his glory. 

That this is more frequently the case than it ought to be, 
requires no other proof than experience and observation; and 
that the evils resulting from it are justly charged, is demon- 
strated by the increasing tendency in the religious world to 
lower the standard of religious duty; and as the morality of 
unbelievers approaches the morality of the gospel, to assimi- 
late the strict and holy requirements of the Christian pro- 
fession to the loose accommodating maxims of the world. By 
this unhallowed exchange, infidelity is the only gainer; and 
therefore it is that it is so countenanced, and the smile of the 
world so freely bestowed on those liberal minded Christians, 
whose system of faith and practice is accommodated to this 
specious, but heartless manifestation of charity. 

To the production of this great and increasing evil, many 
causes conspire; but chiefly the apprehended difficulties of 
fulfilling the requirements of religious duty. This prepares 



ASCENSION OF CHRIST. 371 

the way for one compromise after another, until little but the 
form of godliness is left; and when once a sufficient number 
can be found to countenance each other in this course of de- 
cline from vital godliness, the delusion is increased, and the 
world quickly gains the ascendancy in their hearts. 

This may be exemplified by the duties which professing 
parents owe to their children, and which they have solemnly 
undertaken to perform, as the condition on which the favor 
of God is pledged to them and to their offspring. This high- 
est parental duty requires the utmost watchfulness, self-de- 
nial, perseverence, and prayer; it is prompted by the tender- 
est of all feelings, and the highest of all motives; yet the dif- 
ficulties which the corruption of our nature, and the tempta- 
tions of the world, continually present, in too many cases 
overcome them all, and the woful spectacle is presented, of 
these very children, not only unnurtured iu the fear of God, 
but actually trained and furnished for the love of the world, 
and its maxims inculcated, and its sanctions made to operate, 
with more care and with more effect than the maxims of re- 
ligion and the sanctions of eternity. Need we to be surprised 
then at the decline, not only of the tone and temper of reli- 
gious feeling in professors themselves, but of its influence on 
the community at large? I think not; and that our surprise 
rather should be, that God hath not been provoked to with- 
draw from us altogether the succors of his grace. While he 
therefore spares us, and in various ways presents the admo- 
nitions of his wisdom and love for our good, let us consider 
what arguments and motives to a different course are pre- 
sented by the ascension of our Lord into the heavens. 

I. And, first, as the ascension of the man Christ Jesus to 
die right hand of God, is conclusive proof that the religion 
he taught and established in the world is divine and true, 
the duty is imperious upon all who are called to the know^ 
ledge of this grace, to acquaint themselves with its doctrines 
— to believe its declarations, and to obey its precepts. In 
this, as there is no discretion, so can no difficulty, either real 
or imaginary, be pleaded as an excuse. From the goodness 
of God, we are bound to believe that nothing is required of 
us, either impossible in itself, or beyond the power of those 
faculties which constitute us moral beings, and by the aid of 



372 ASCENSION OF CHRIST. 

Lis promised grace, are equal to all that religion requires of 
us. Nor yet are we to presume that the service of God is 
iuconsistent with our present happiness — rather are we bound 
to believe, from the benignity of his nature, that whatever 
has that appearance, is occasioned by erroneous views of 
what our present happiness consists in; and by the surrender 
of our own sinful inclinations, to his wise and holy counsels, 
to make proof, at once of our own docility and of the truth 
of his holy word. Especially is this course called for in those 
whose woful experience has given them sensible proof, that 
the ways of self-will, of sin and folly, are ways of disappoint- 
ment, and sorrow, and bitterness of spirit. And as the good- 
ness of God has provided, that sincere repentance shall re- 
new favor, through the merits and death of Jesus Chkist, en- 
couragement is given, even to the chief of sinners, to return 
to God, and, by a new and amended life, to reap the happy 
fruit of peace here, and reward hereafter; and as the voice of 
reason points out the wisdom of thus turning from death unto 
life, so is it confirmed by the word of revelation, which de- 
clares to every sinner, that "except he repent he shall perish." 

II. Secondly, as the ascension of the man Christ Jesus is 
the great proof of the truth and divine origin of the religion he 
taught, so is the consideration of this fact the stronge&t in- 
ducement to repent, and believe the gospel. 

Now, this inducement is found, not merely in the truth 
and divine nature of his religion, which yet is ground suf- 
ficient for every wise man to build his faith and hope upon, 
but in the circumstances connected with it. 

His ascension into heaven was a visible installing him into 
his office, as head over all things to his Church; so that 
through him we now look up to God, address our prayers 
and praises, with hope of acceptance; and through him re- 
ceive those returns of mercy and favor, which for his sake 
are vouchsafed to a race of redeemed sinners. 

His ascension into heaven was a demonstration of the 
triumph of human nature over the powers of darkness, there- 
by giving assurance of the like Victory over their power and 
malice, to every true believer in his name. 

His ascension into heaven was the prelude to those mani- 
fold gifts of grace, which he poured out upon the world in 



ASCENSION" OF CHRIST. 373 

the gift of the Holy Ghost, to abide with his Church for ever, 
as the comforter, enlightener, and sanctifier of his people. 

This was the promise of the Father to the Son, in order to 
complete the great work of our salvation from sin and eternal 
death, by the renewal of our hearts, and the sanctification of 
our lives; and the first display of our Redeemer's exaltation 
was the gift of the Holy Ghost. And herein are all, who 
have hearts to feel and tongues to utter praise, called upon 
to adore and magnify the riches of that grace in which all 
are provided, to conquer sin, to overcome death, and inherit 
eternity, in the heavenly mansions of love, and joy, and 
peace — and hereby are all bound, to whom the knowledge 
of this salvation is sent, forthwith to turn from the error of 
their ways, to embrace the gospel, and by a life and conver- 
sation conformed to its holy requirements, to follow the cap- 
tain of their salvation to his heavenly kingdom — and this 
they are required to do, because, through the gift of the 
Holy Ghost, power is conferred to fulfil their high calling. 
"Whatever excuse, therefore, men may be disposed to make 
from difficulty in religion, is altogether unfounded. No more 
difficulty exists, than is absolutely necessary to the probation 
of moral beings — none that is insuperable to the renewed 
and assisted powers of redeemed beings — and, as on this is 
founded the responsibility of accountable beings, reward or 
punishment will surely follow, according as this state of grace 
and salvation is improved or neglected. 

III. Thirdly, the ascension of Christ into heaven in that 
same body which suffered on the cross, is the clear and con* 
vincing proof that the mortal bodies of all who embrace the 
faith, obey the precepts, and follow the example, of the man 
Christ Jesus, shall with him also thither ascend, and enjoy 
for ever the pleasures which flow from the presence of God, 
in the society of Christ, of the holy angels, and of the spirits 
of just men made perfect. 

The consideration of our Lord's ascension, therefore, pre- 
sents religion to our notice in a near and very interesting 
relation, to those endearing ties which connect us so closely 
in the present life. As our state hereafter will depend on 
our conduct here, so have we reason to believe, from the 
circumstance of the resurrection of our bodies, that those 



374 ASCENSION OF CHRIST. 

affections and qualifications which form the nobler part of 
our nature in this our state of trial, will form a correspond- 
ing part of the enjoyments of a future state of being. — A 
reflection, my brethren, which links the religion of the gospel 
to the sanctified ties of family and kindred, and unites the 
tenderest affections of our mortal natures with the holiest 
hopes of our immortal spirits; and if dwelt upon and realized, 
as it ought to be, adds another to the man} T proofs we are 
furnished with, of that wisdom and prudence, as the apostle 
expresses it, wherewith a gracious God hath dealt with us, 
and fitted this dispensation of his grace, so exquisitely, to 
the nature of the being for whom it is contrived, that only 
by the most inveterate opposition to reason, and interest, and 
feeling, can he fail to be moved, and drawn by cords of 
divine and human love to seek his own happiness and the 
happiness of all who are dear to him, by the performance of 
those duties which God has enjoined to this very end. And 
who does not see what happy effects would flow from such 
considerations, what union among Christians, what endear- 
ment in families, what zeal to promote religion, what com- 
fort and consolation, amidst those inevitable privations, 
which are only unbearable when the hope of reunion is pre- 
cluded by the absence' of religion. O how cold and comfort- 
less is the condition of the unbeliever. lie looks around him 
perhaps on many blessings, on a flourishing family, and a 
prosperous worldly condition; but he must look upon them 
as transient things — in a few short and uncertain years to 
come to an end, and no more to visit his heart for ever. He 
cannot, therefore, feel the holy influence of that sanctified 
character which the same blessings impart to the heart of 
the believer, nor can he enjoy them with that high relish, 
tfor resign them with that blessed hope, which religion sheds 
over the brightest as well as the darkest periods of our pil- 
grimage. 

Lastly, the ascension of Cueist into heaven, as it is con- 
clusive proof of the truth and divine original of his religion, 
and of the obligation all are under to embrace and obey the 
gospel — as it is demonstrative of his exaltation to supreme 
dominion in heaven and on earth, so is it an irrefragable tes- 
timony, that this same Jesus is he whom God hath ordained 
the judge of quick and dead. 



ASCENSION OF CHRIST. 375 

This is a consideration, my hearers, which is cheerful and 
encouraging, or gloomy and alarming, according to the in- 
fluence religion hath obtained over our hearts and lives. To 
the Christian, it is very full of comfort, that the infirmity and 
imperfection of his best intended services, that the short- 
coming of his best performed duties, and the sinfulness of his 
holiest affections, are to be tried before a Friend, and fellow- 
sufferer from the temptations of the world and the malice of 
the devil — that his Judge has himself been tempted, and 
though without sin, knows how "to have compassion on the 
ignorant, and them that are out of the. way." While to the 
unbeliever, to the redeemed sinner, who hath turned away 
from his word, and derided his grace, who hath refused his 
love, and scorned his wrath, who hath trampled on his blood, 
and done despite to his holy Spirit, the thought that he has 
to meet this same Jesus as his Judge, is a heart sinking re- 
flection. For what plea can he then put in to move the com- 
passion of his Judge? The season of mercy is past, the inter- 
cession of Christ has ceased, he is no longer a Saviour, but 
a Judge. The period of probation is over. No' repentance 
can then avail, and as the unbeliever has chosen death in the 
error of his life, so death awaits him in all the plenitude of 
endless remorse and despair. O what a price to pay for the 
pleasures of sin, for the vanities of the world, for the vanished 
honor of its perishing applause. Yet thus it must be; my 
hearers, for God cannot deny himself, and make Christ the 
minister of sin, by awarding eternal happiness to those who 
have not prepared themselves in their day of grace for the 
blessed company of heaven. They must go to their own 
place, to the society of such as themselves, to the company 
of devils, and to the interminable torments of the wrath of 
God, poured out upon their ingratitude, as the just wages of 
sin preferred, and salvation slighted. 

And is there an escape from this misery to the thousands 
who are exposed to it? Yes, blessed be God, there is de- 
liverance from this body of death, through Jesus Christ our 
Lord: he hath suffered for sin — he hath risen from the dead 
i — lie hath ascended into heaven — he hath led captivity cap- 
tive, and given gifts unto men, even the Holy Spirit, to 
guide them into all truth, to convince them of sin, to show 



376 ASCENSION OF CHRIST. 

them the efficacy of his death, and to sanctify them for those 
mansions of blessedness, whither he is gone before to pre- 
pare a place for all who believe and obey him. And shall 
the sinner, the helpless death-sticken sinner, remain unmoved 
by this display of mercy and love? Shall sin prove stronger 
than salvation, and Christ die in vain for any present? God 
forbid! Let serious reflection, then, lead you to desire the 
knowledge of God; let his holy word guide you to the truth 
as it is in Jesus; let his Holy Spirit bring you to repentance, 
and the prayer of faith replenish your soul with the fear of 
God, and the love of Christ — then shall the hope that maketh 
not ashamed purify your heart from the love of sin, and in- 
spire those holy affections which fit you for the presence of 
God, that when the end shall come, you may leave a world 
of sin and sinners, and ascending with Christ to the habita- 
tion of his holiness, sit down forever at the right hand of 
God, where there shall be no more sin, no more death, no 
more sorrow, no more suffering; but all shall be love, and 
joy, and peace — a felicity, bounded only by the omnipotence 
of God, and the extent of eternity. To which that we may 
all come, God in his infinite mercy grant, for Jesus Christ's 
sake. To whom, &c. &c. 









MB .■ ■> -.>--. '.,.■ . ; . 



SERMON XI, 



TRINITY SUNDAY. 



1 Timothy hi. 16. 

"And without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness; God was 
manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto 
the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory." 

"Whether we understand godliness in its common accepta- 
tion of an habitually religious disposition and conduct, or of 
the means which the wisdom and love of God have contrived 
and appointed in order to the production of this effect, upon 
a race of depraved and sinful creatures; the assertion of the 
apostle is equally true, and equally demands our devout and 
serious consideration. 

Godliness is a great mystery, or a deep and unsearchable 
operation of divine grace, manifest or made sensible to us in 
the one case, by the effect produced upon our own hearts; 
and exhibited in the other case, by that eternal purpose of 
mercy and salvation to fallen man, which was decreed in the 
counsels of heaven before the world was, is now fully made 
known by the revelation of the gospel, and is in operation in 
the world. 

That the apostle here uses the word godliness to denote 
the plan and fulfilment of the redemption of the world by the 
Son of God, must be evident from the enumeration, in the 
text, of those particulars which constitute the mystery he 
refers to. And as the subject, however deep, embraces a 
fundamental doctrine of the faith once delivered to the saints, 
is practically edifying to Christians, and appropriated to the 
services of the day, I shall endeavor to apply it to these pur- 
poses, by laying before you, 

First, some considerations, calculated to obviate the ob- 
jections hastily and erroneously taken up against such doc- 
trines of religion as are mysterious in their nature, and par- 
ticularly against the doctrine of the Trinity. 



378 TRINITY SUNDAY. 

Secondly, by pointing out the confirmation given to this 
doctrine by the different facts mentioned in the text, and 
which, together, form the mystery of godliness. 

Thirdly, by showing you the connexion between the be- 
lief of this doctrine and practical religion, or personal godli- 
ness. 

"And without controversy, great is the mystery of godli- 
ness; God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Smrit, 
seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the 
world, received up into glory." 

I. First, I am to lay before you some observations calcu- 
lated to obviate the objections, hastily and erroneously taken 
up, ; gainst such doctrines of religion as are mysterious in 
their nature, and particularly against the doctrine of the 
Trinity. 

The word mystery, in its common acceptation, means 
something secret and inexplicable, and is applied either to 
natural events, the causes of which we cannot penetrate, or 
to moral actions, the motions and springs to which are so 
concealed and impervious as to preclude discovery. Of each 
of these, observation and experience teach us, that there is a 
great variety, and might thereby prepare us, with all hu- 
mility and readiness of mind, to expect, and to receive with- 
out objection, the higher and more sublime mysteries of re- 
ligion. 

In the religious acceptation of the word, it is applied to 
whatever is in such wise above or beyond human intelligence, 
in its own nature or mode of being, as to be known only by 
express revelation. Of these- there are two descriptions- 
one, which, when revealed, may in a good degree, if not al- 
together, be explained and understood; such as the satisfac- 
tion of Christ's death for the sins of men, "the operation of 
divine grace upon the human heart, the resurrection of our 
mortal bodies; with others, which might be named. The 
other, embracing those doctrines, the truth and certainty of 
which we know likewise by revelation, but cannot compre- 
hend either their nature or the manner how they are; such 
as the trinity of persons in the unity of the Godhead, and 
tlje union of the divine and human natures in the man Christ 
Jesus. These are facts revealed to our faith, not to our un- 



TEINITY SUNDAY. o79 

derstanding — they rest upon the authority of the revealer, 
not upon the reason of the creature, and from their very na- 
ture, warn us, that as all speculation into the manner of their 
being must prove abortive, it is both presumptuous and dan- 
gerous to intrude "into things not seen, vainly puffed up by 
a fleshly mind." 

In a communication from heaven to mankind on subjects, 
purely spiritual, it is, a priori, reasonable to expect that there 
should be much above any power of comprehension we possess 
as rational beings. Mysteries in religion, therefore, ought 
not to excite our surprise, far less should they be resorted 
to, either as a ground of objection, or as an excuse for un- 
belief; and this we are taught by the analogies both of the 
natural and of the moral world. How many things palpable 
to our senses are yet beyond the reach of our faculties to 
comprehend the manner of their being, or the properties of 
their nature? u The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou 
nearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh 
and whither it goeth"— And shall' He "who bringeth the 
wind out of his treasures" be denied in the communications 
he hath made of himself to his creatures, because he is more 
incomprehensible than his works? Folly and enmity, even 
the enmity of the carnal mind, is stamped upon the pre- 
sumption. If the elements in the midst of which we live, if 
the earth upon which we tread, and the food which nourishes 
our bodies, all contain secrets as to their nature and proper- 
ties, which the wisdom that is in man cannot search out, 
shall not the pride that is offended, and rejects the mysteries 
of the divine mind, revealed for our good, stand rebuked for 
its impiety, and humble itself to receive the invisible things 
of God, just as "He in whom is no darkness at all, who is 
.perfect in knowledge," hath prepared and fitted them to our 
actual condition? Surely, if that boasted reason, to which 
the appeal is so confidently and constantly made, in support 
of this objection to revealed religion, be not itself a fallacy, 
it must see and acknowledge, that in things wholly beyond 
its observation and experience, God himself is the only source 
of knowledge. All that regards his nature, his properties, 
his mode of being, his will as to us, and his purposes con- 
cerning us, must come from him. If then, God hath spoken, 



380 



TRINITY SUNDAY. 



let all the earth be silent before him, and casting away their 
unbelief, submit themselves to "receive with meekness the 
engrafted word, which is able to save their souls." 

This being undeniably the duty of every reasonable being, 
as to religion in general, it is equally so as to any particular 
doctrine of religion. In truth — and I mention it as a general 
caution, and as the very first point which should be settled 
by every individual, in regard to religion — the previous 
question as to the parts, as well as to the whole of religion, 
is, hath God revealed it? If he hath, there ought to be no 
question as to the fitness or reasonableness of any particular 
doctrine, as the ground of our reception of it. Faith springs 
not from, neither rests upon, reason, but from, and upon, 
divine authority; and whatever in religion is not built upon 
this foundation, is built upon the sand. Reason may examine 
the fact of a revelation, or not, which is its proper province 
— reason may strive, within its proper and guarded limits, 
to apprehend the deep things of God, and to apply them to 
the attainment of clearer views of his glorious perfections, 
which is its noblest exercise — and reason .may enforce the 
obligation and the interest of its possessor, to embrace the 
truth of God, as God hath revealed it, as the only light of 
the soul, which constitutes reason the high and distinguishing 
privilege of our nature. But with the mysteries of religion, 
with "the secret things which belong to the Lord our God," 
reason meddles at its highest peril, and risks making ship- 
wreck of the faith. For they are therefore mysteries, because 
they are above our reason, beyond any possible enlargement 
or exercise of that faculty, in our present state of being, are 
to be discerned by faith only, and comprehended by a higher 
and different grade of intellectual progression. 

To bring the mysteries of godliness to this tribunal, then, 
as a daring presumption of the carnal mind, and effectually 
shuts men out from that knowledge of them, which is prac- 
tical and profitable to the entrance and increase of true 
religion in the heart. And as this is experimentally true, as 
respects this abuse of religious mysteries in general, those 
"who give into it remaining dead to God, and strangers to his 
a-enewing grace; so is it emphatically true of those unhappy 
persons who are seduced with "great swelling words of 



TRINITY SUNDAY. 381 

vanity," to reject the doctrine of the trinity in unity, as the 
mode of being in the divine nature, because it is contrary to 
reason, say some, because it is incomprehensible, say others. 
But when reason can develope the mysteries of the natural 
world, which it knowingly acts upon, though uncomprehended, 
and thereby both receives and gives the proof that they are 
not contrary to reason, let it take up this objection to the 
high mystery of the manner of subsistence in the godhead of 
Jehovah, our revealed Almightv Cause of all other being. 
When reason can comprehend its own mode of being, how 
soul, body, and spirit yet form but one man, let it venture to 
question upon any grounds the mode of subsistence in its 
Creator, as revealed by himself, and let the broad and pal- 
pable atheism of the objection banish it for ever from the 
realms of Christian light. For without controversy, if its 
being incomprehensible to reason is a good objection to the 
belief of G-od, as subsisting under a particular mode of being, 
it is equally good against his subsisting at all, it being just 
as impossible for reason to comprehend*an eternal, underived, 
spiritual essence, in the mode, or manner of his subsistence, 
whatever that may be. The mode of Being in Deity, there- 
fore, must of necessity be matter of direct revelation — and to 
this let reason in man submit itself — not replying against God. 

II. Secondly, I am to point out to you the confirmation 
given to the doctrine of the trinity, by the different facts 
mentioned in the text, and which together form the mystery 
of godliness. 

"God was manifest in the flesh." That the apostle here 
refers to the incarnation of the second person in the trinity 
of the godhead, as revealed and set forth in the gospel, must 
be evident from those various passages of Scripture which 
refer to the same event. The original promise to fallen man 
was, that "the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's 
head." To this, as its leading object, the providence of God 
in the government of the world, and the whole system of rev- 
elation and prophecy in the Old Testament Church, was di- 
rected. Jacob prophecied that Shiloh should come, and 
that unto him should be the gathering of the people. Moses 
prophecied to the children of Israel, "a prophet shall the 
Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto 



SS"3 TRINITY SUNDAY. 

me: him shall ye hear." Isaiah gave notice, "Behold a vir- 
gin shall conceive and hear a son, and shall call his name 
Immanuel," which St. Matthew interprets to mean "God 
with us," or in our nature. "Yea, and all the prophets, as 
many as have spoken, have testified of him." 

In fulfilment of these predictions, the inspired writers of 
the New Testament unite in declaring, "that when the ful- 
ness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a 
woman, that he who was in the form of God, and thought it 
not robbery to be equal with God, was found in the likeness of 
man — that He who is over all, God blessed forever as con- 
cerning the flesh, came of the seed of David — that the word, 
which was in the beginning with God, which was God, the 
same was made flesh and dwelt among us." This is such 
clear and decisive testimony as to what was in the mind of 
the apostle when he made the declaration in my text, that 
"God was manifest in the flesh," that no reasonable doubt 
can be entertained, that he meant to assert that a divine per- 
son took our nature i>pon him, and appeared in the world, 
according to the predictions going before concerning him, 
and consequently that St. Paul, inspired by the Spirit of 
God, believed and taught a plurality of persons in the unity 
of the godhead. In further confirmation of this point, I 
would direct your attention to some declarations of our Lord 
himself, which on any other supposition than that of his 
divinity, are irreconcilable with the truth and integrity of his 
character. 

In order to give his immediate disciples a clear view of his 
person and office, he told them, "I came forth from the father, 
and am come into the world" — again, "I leave the world and 
go to the Father;" which is in perfect agreement with the 
pre-existence of Christ, and with the fact, as predicted and 
fulfilled in the mission of the Son of God. Again, in the 
affecting prayer which he uttered before he went into the 
garden to encounter his passion, he made this petition — 
"And now O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self, 
with the glorv which I had with thee before the world was." 
oSTow here is a pre-existent state of glory with God the Father 
Almighty, asserted to exist before the creation of things, and 
that by a plurality of persons, which is not conceivable of 



TRINITY" SUNDAY. 383 

anv created beins:, without a force of construction which de- 
feats all certainty of meaning in the use of language. Once 
more, "Philip saith unto him, Lord, show us the Father, and. 
it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, He that hath seen me 
hath seen the Father" — which could not be true in the sense 
in which Philip put the question, unless in very truth, He 
who was thus manifest in the flesh was very God. And here 
again we have a plurality of persons asserted in the godhead. 
And again, "I and my Father are one," says the Saviour. 
Now, the context informs us, that this declaration was made, 
of equality of power with the Father. The question between 
our Lord and the Jews at the time was, as to his being the 
Christ, the expected Messiah. Of this he told them they 
had sufficient proof, but would not believe, because they were 
not of his sheep. "My sheep hear my voice," says he, "and 
I give unto them eternal life — neither shall any man pluck 
them out of my hand. — My Father which gave them me 
is greater than all: and no man is able to pluck them out of 
my Father's hand. — I and my Father are one." But equality 
of power must include equality of nature, and by consequence, 
a plurality of persons in the subsistence of Deity. "God was 
justified in the spirit." The expression is technical, and 
means, that the person here spoken of was authoritatively 
declared and certified, as to his nature and office, by the 
visible testimony of the Holy Ghost, according to that ex- 
pression of John the Baptist, "he that hath the bride is the 
bridegroom." The person thus justified, and here declared 
to be God, was undoubtedly our Lord Jesus Christ, and this 
justification consisted in his miraculous conception by the 
Holy Ghost; in the visible descent of the Spirit upon him 
at his baptism; in the miracles wherewith he attested his 
mission; in his resurrection from the dead; and in the effusion 
of the Holy Ghost on his disciples, on the day of Pentecost; 
by all which, the man Christ Jesus was declared "to be the 
Son of God with power;" that is, certified to be a divine per- 
son, even "God manifest in the flesh." Manv individuals in 
this world have in like manner been justified by the Spirit, 
as the messenger of God, to their fellow sinners; but neither 
in measure or in manner as was Jesus of Nazareth. In them 
it was limited and controlled, by the power which bestowed 



384 TRINITY SUNDAY. 

the gift; in the man Christ Jesus, the fulness of the godhead 
dwelt bodily, and the Spirit without measure. They spake 
and acted in the name of him who sent them. Jesus of 

• 

Nazareth spake and acted in his own name, as one having 
authority, absolute and irresistible, over both the natural and 
the spiritual world; and as the Spirit, by which the prophets 
and apostles were actuated, and justified to men, is expressly 
called the Spirit of- Christ, and was derived from him to 
them, the Spirit by which Christ is here said to be justified 
by God, must be inherent, underived, and his property as a 
member of the godhead. 

"God was seen of angels. No man hath seen God at any 
time." From the nature and properties of the Supreme 
Beinij, he is and must be invisible to the highest created in- 
telligeuces. He who filleth immensity and all space, cannot 
be circumscribed by a visible form or shape. The blessed 
angels do indeed behold the face of our Heavenly Father, as 
it is expressed in Scripture; but this denotes neither shape 
nor similitude, but their nearness to that glory and bright- 
ness of his presence, in which they contemplate and adore 
his perfections, and from which they derive those supplies of 
unspeakable bliss, which constitute the happiness of Heaven. 
In what sense, then, was "God seen of angels?" In that 
sense, and no other, in which, by taking our nature upon 
him, he became visible to angels and to men; and he is here 
said to be seen of angels particularly, because, as they had 
a higher perception of the divine nature, so had they a clearer 
insight into the mystery of the incarnation. But what divine 
person took our nature upon him? The only begotten Son, 
who left the bosom of his Father, emptied himself of his es- 
sential glory for us men, and for our salvation came down 
from Heaven, and "was found in fashion as a man." God, 
then, was seen of angels, in the manger of the infant Jesus 
at Bethlehem; at the close of his temptation in the wilder- 
ness; during his passion in Gethsemane; they witnessed his 
triumphant resurrection, and accompanied his glorious as- 
cension into his heavenly dominions. The person thus seen 
of angels, is declared by St. Paul to be God; but Jesus Christ, 
and none other, was thus seen of angels. Jesus Christ, there- 
fore, is God. 



TRINITY SUNDAY. 385 

"God was preached unto the Gentiles." The history of the 
gospel, and our own condition, my brethren, is sufficient 
proof of the fact. But it is declared to be a mystery, how 
this became possible, consistent with the honor of God; and 
this mystery can be cleared up no otherwise than by- refer- 
ring to the satisfaction made by the death of Christ, for the 
sins of the whole world, to the reconciliation thereby effected 
between God and man, and to the offers of pardon and grace, 
commanded to be made to all nations, on the conditions of 
the covenant ratified in his blood. Hence we read, that 
"God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not im- 
puting their trespasses unto them;" and the offers of the 
gospel, being made to men by the authority of Christ, being 
limited on the condition of faith in the name of Christ, and 
witnessed and made effectual by the Spirit of Christ, as the 
Church is the body of Christ, and believers the members of 
Christ, the whole dispensation is called the kingdom of 
Christ; and hence the preaching of the gospel, and preach- 
ing Christ, are expressions of the same import in Scripture. 
Thus we read, that "Philip went down to Samaria, and 
preached Christ unto them" — that St. Paul determined to 
know nothing among the Corinthians, "but Jesus Christ and 
him crucified." Hence he calls the gospel "the unsearchable 
riches of Christ," "the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ," the 
"grace of God which bringeth salvation." And as the whole 
history of the gospel proves that Christ was and is the sum 
and substance of all sound preaching, therefore, as Christ 
was what "was preached unto the Gentiles," Christ is God, 
by a testimony as wide as the spread of the gospel. 

"God was believed on in the world." The triumphs of 
the name of Christ over the gods of superstition, and the 
establishment of the gospel upon the ruin of the profane reli- 
gions of the world, is the standing demonstration of his divine 
power, who said to his first ministers, "Lo, I am with you 
always, even unto the end of the world." That a self-denying 
religion, at war with the lusts of the flesh, and the vanities 
of the world, with invisible rewards and visible sufferings^ 
should have been embraced and followed by the darkness 
and depravity to which it was preached, is a mystery which 
■can be solved only by the deity of its Author. The reception 
[Vol. 1,— *25,] 



386 TRINITY SUNDAY. 

of Christ as God, exalted his doctrine above the morality of 
the schools, and gave power to his word superior to all the 
wisdom of the world. The testimony of the Holy Ghost to 
this truth, in the preaching of his ministers, confirmed their 
doctrine as from God, and the fruits of faith in the lives of 
believers, spread over the world the knowledge and the 
power of that "name which is above every name."" "Believe 
in the Lord Jesus Cilrist and thou shalt be saved," was the 
message of life and hope to awakened sinners, and as Christ 
was preached to them as "the only name tinder lieaven" by 
which this could be effected, he was believed on and trusted 
in as the God of their salvation; and wherever the gospel has 
been established, this doctrine has been received as a funda- 
mental truth of our holy religion, that the same Christ which 
was preached unto the Gentiles, and believed on in the 
world, is "God over all, blessed for ever." 

"God was received up into glory" — but he must first have 
left or surrendered his glory, otherwise he could not have 
been received again to it; and as this is true only of our Lord 
Jesus Christ, it is an unanswerable declaration of the inhe- 
rent divinity of his nature — for thus this same apostle argues 
in another place, from our Lord's ascension: "Xow that he 
ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the 
lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same 
also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might 
fill all things*" He who had glory with the father, before 
the world was, came into the world, and having finished the 
work of our redemption, again ascended up where he was 
before; circumstances, which as they can be affirmed of no 
created being, but are literally true of the Lord Jesds Christ, 
so are they conclusive as to the divinity ascribed to his 
nature, and are asserted by himself as proofs of this doctrine, 
in his conversation with Nicodemus: "And no man hath 
ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, 
even the Son of man which is in lieaven." 

Each separate fact then, mentioned in the text, being thus 
clear and conclusive for our Lord's divine nature, the amount 
of the whole, taken together, presents such a confirmation 
of the catholic faith, as to this fundamental doctrine, as can- 
not sincerely and honestly be withstood. 



TRINITY SUNDAY. 387 

III. Thirdly, I am to show you the connexion between the 
belief of this doctrine and practical religion, or personal 
godliness. 

The belief of the doctrine of the trinity has a favorable 
influence on personal religion, inasmuch as it involves the 
divinity of the Saviour, and the assistance of the Holy Ghost. 
If sin is of that malignant nature that nothing less than the 
death of the Son of God could expiate its guilt, and obtain 
remission for sinners, the strongest of all arguments is hereby 
presented against continuing under its power, and the high- 
est of all inducements held out, in the love of God and the 
merits of Christ, to bring sinners to repentance and amended 
life. And if the infection of our nature, by the poison of 
sin, is so deep and radical that nothing short of divine power 
can extract it, and nothing lower than divine assistance 
enable us to contend with its deceits, and overcome its in- 
fluence, the encouragement derived from the Holy Ghost to 
this very end, is beyond all expression. Indeed so ample, 
so suitable, and so effectual, is the provision made for our 
recovery to God under the Christian system, of acceptance, 
by the Father, through atonement by the Son, and sanctifi- 
cation by the Holy Spirit, as persons concerned jointly and 
separately in bringing us to salvation, that it must be wholly 
our own fault if we fail of the grace of God, 

Again, if we are to be judged hereafter, and rewarded or 
punished according to our works, it is a most consoling 
thought, even to the holiest of men, that he who is appointed 
the judge of quick, and dead, is the same who, in the truth 
of our nature, encountered all its temptations — who therefore 
has a feeling of our infirmities, and who knows how tofcave 
■compassion on the ignorant, and on them that were out of 
the way. To take him as our Saviour, secures his mercy as 
our judge. And if holiness is indispensable to happiness 
with God, the blessed assurance, that the Holy Ghost is 
given to change and renew the heart — to shed abroad the 
love of God in our souls, and transform us into the divine 
image and nature — is calculated to stir up every faculty of 
soul and body, to be workers together with God for the prize 
of our high calling. To believe a work to be possible is the 
first step to exertion — to have the means of performing it 



8SS TRINITY SUNDAY. 

provided, encourages to begin — and to be sure of success, if 
Ave faithfully apply the means, leads to diligence in duty. 
!Now all this is found in the belief of the doctrine of a trinity 
of persons in the unity of the godhead, engaged in carrying 
on the plan of our salvation; and no where else can it be 
found. Discard this doctrine, and sin immediately loses the 
malignity of its nature, man is no longer the fallen, sinful 
creature who has no hope in himself; atonement is needless 
and grace superfluous — reason can perform the office of the 
Holy Spirit, and man's righteousness abide the scrutiny of 
God's judgment. Heaven is the reward, not of grace, but 
of debt, and eternal life the retribution of justice, not the 
gift of God, through Jesus Cueist our Loud. 

As the provisions of God's wisdom and love are only 
sought and valued by men in proportion as they believe and 
feel the want and misery of their state by nature, you can 
all judge, my hearers, of the effect likely to be produced on 
the heart of man by opposite systems of doctrine; one of 
which presents to his faith and hope, the love and the might 
of omnipotence in the trinity of the Godhead, engaged for 
his recovery and salvation, through a divine atonement for 
the guilt of sin, and supernatural assistance to overcome its 
powers; and the other, which leaves him with human means 
only to perfect himself for the presence of God, and claim 
eternal life upon his own merits, without a Saviour, who is 
God as well as man, without a sanctifier, who is God the- 
Holy Ghost. From which of these, then, the righteousness, 
of faith is most likely to spring, and personal godliness, that 
holiness without which no man shall see the Lord, to be- 
soifght and attained, sinners — judge ye. 

Now to God the Father, God the Son, and God the . Holy 
Ghost, three persons in one God, be ascribed glory, honor,, 
and salvation, now and ever, world without end. Am«n. 






SERMON XII, 



ORDINATION) OR INSTITUTION? 



1 TttESSALONIANS V. 25; 

"Brethren^ pray for us." 

If *an inspired apostle found it profitable to request the 1 
prayers of the Churches which lie had planted, much more 
must it be needful to the Christian ministry at this day, that 
prayer should be offered up to God, by the congregations to 
whom they minister, that their labors be not in vain. 

Much more is it required of us, who are deprived of those 
extraordinary displays of the power of the Holy Spirit with 
which the apostles were favored, earnestly to pray, that his 
ordinary and continual assistance may be granted us, both 
to speak and to hear, to edification. And how much the 
more ought your poor servant — when taking upon himself 
the charge of your spiritual concerns — to address you in the 
words of the apostle — ■"Brethren, pray for us." . 

Arduous is the task, to stand between the living and the 
dead — to check and stay the plague of sin — to watch over 
the welfare of immortal souls — to conflict with the powers of 
darkness — with all the varied and multiplied arts of the 
crafty enemy of God and man*— with spiritual wickedness in 
high places — and with what I believe to be more difficult 
than all, the inherent depravity of the human heart. 

How needful, then, my brethren, that both minister and 
people should so feel the deep importance of the ministerial 
offices, as to be drawn out in frequent and fervent prayer to 
Almighty God, for that blessing upon his word preached, 
which shall make it profitable to their immortal souls. Paul 
may plant and Apollos may water, but without help from 
God there can be no increase — and the very appointment 
and privilege of prayer, involves the duty of its exercise, if 
we would obtain spiritual benefit, for prayer is the expres- 
sion of desire to God. If, therefore, there be no private in" 



390 ORDINATION, OR INSTITUTION. 

tercession with God, on the part of a Christian congregation, 
for guidance and direction from the Holt Spirit, for their 
minister, and for his blessed influences on their own hearts, 
in favor of divine truth, it is surely too plain evidence, that 
no sincere desire is felt for religious attainment. And hence 
it comes to pass, that the word preached doth not profit them, 
as we see so awfully exemplified in the existing condition of 
the Christian world — wherein many are hearers of the word, 
while but few indeed are doers thereof. Now, whether in- 
difference on the subject of religion be the cause or the effect 
of the neglect of the duty of prayer in general, and of this 
particular exercise of supplication to God, the event is the 
same; for in things moral and spiritual, the concurrence of 
our own will and desire, as well as the exertions of our re- 
spective abilities, must accompany the operations of divine 
grace. God, indeed, worketh in us, both to will and to do, 
and for that very reason requires us to work out our own 
salvation; and as the ministerial office is a prominent ap- 
pointment of the wisdom of God to this great end, it should 
ever be the subject of fervent intercession with God, by every 
serious Christian, on the joint consideration of duty and 
interest. For your own spiritual advantage, then, and for 
my help in the charge to which you have called me — for the 
revival of religion, and for the increase of the Redeemer's 
kingdom, I beseech you, my brethren, "pray for us." 

But, as the understanding, as well as the spirit is required 
in the office of prayer, grant me your attention, while I en- 
deavor to lay before you some of those high and solemn 
duties which peculiarly belong to the gospel ministry: vari- 
ously described, and under differing, though very opposite 
emblems, pointed out to us in the Scriptures. 

AVhile man continued in that holy and happy state in 
which he was placed at his creation, we read of no offices of 
devotion, no sacrifices, no oblations; the whole man, both soul 
and body, being pure and holy, was an acceptable offering 
— a living sacrifice — a perfect oblation, to his Maker. But 
when this blessed condition was forfeited through disobe- 
dience, immediately we find sacrifice and offering, and with 
them the offices of devotion appointed. We read, however, 
of no priesthood, none specially set apart to minister in holy 



ORDINATION, OK INSTITUTION. 391 

things, and to act as the medium of communication between 
God and liis creatures; neither do we hear of assemblies for 
the public. worship of Jehovah; but there is good reason to 
believe, that every family composed its own Church, and the 
head thereof officiated as priest. This state of things, as re- 
garded religion, continued before and after the deluge, for a 
period of twenty-four hundred years. 

But when it pleased God, in fulfilment of his promise to 
our first parents, to select Abraham as the stock from which, 
in the fulness of time, Messiah, the Prince, should spring — 
and when, after many very wonderful displays of his power 
and providence, the posterity of Abraham, delivered from 
Egyptian bondage, were- gathered together in the wilderness 
— then do we first read of the altar, and the continual burnt 
offering of the ark of the covenant, and the mercy seat above 
it, with all the splendid, yet typical furniture of the taber- 
nacle, or place of public worship. Then, also, do we first 
read of a particular family, selected from the tribes to min- 
ister in the sanctuary, in their different orders, and favored 
with Urim and Thummim — that is, with light and perfection 
— set apart to burn the incense of morning and evening sup- 
plication, to declare the will of heaven to the congregation, 
and make daily atonement for the sins of the people. 

And when it further pleased him, as the time drew near 
for the fulfilment of his promise, to send his servants, the 
prophets, to warn his chosen people, to reprove their back- 
slidings, and rebuke their rebellions, to make clearer dis- 
coveries of the gospel dispensation, obscurely shadowed 
out in the ceremonial law and the services of the temple, 
then begins to open upon us, with clearer light, the high re- 
sponsibility and sacred nature of the ministerial service of God. 

Hear the appointment of the prophet Ezekiel — "Son of 
man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel, 
therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warn- 
ing from me — when I say unto the wicked, thou shalt surely 
die, and thou givest hi in not warning, nor speakest to warn 
the wicked from his wicked way to save his life; the same 
wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I re- 
quire at thy hand. Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he 
turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he 



392 ORDINATION, OR INSTITUTION. 

shall die in Lis iniquity, but thou hast delivered thy soul. 
Again when a righteous man doth turn from his righteous- 
ness, and commit iniquity, and I lay a stumbling block be- 
fore him, he shall die; because thou hast not given him warn- 
. ing, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he 
hath done shall not be remembered: but his blood will I re- 
quire at thy hand. ISTevertheless, if thou warn the righteous 
man, that the righteous sin not, and he doth not sin, he shall 
surely live, because he is warned; also, thou hast delivered 
thy soul." Awful appointment indeed! "Well may we ex- 
claim, "who is sufficient for these things? 1 ' And earnestly do 
we beseech you, brethren, to join us in prayer, that a full 
measure of the grace of God may be afforded us. 

Hear also the evangelical watchman, Isaiah. Inquiry is 
made respecting his office — ""Watchman, what of the night? 
Watchman; what of the night?'' Hear also his reply. '"The 
morning cometh, and also the night; if ye will inquire, in- 
quire ye; return; come." The very message, my hearers, 
yea almost the very words, of the gospel. The morning of 
the resurrection is last approaching; the night of despair and 
darkness also cometh. Inquire, search diligently; "return to 
the Lord, and he will have mercy upon you. Come unto me 
and be saved all ye ends of the earth. He that hath ears to 
hear let him hear." Hear the warning voice of your watch- 
man this day, and pray for him, that he may always bo 
found at his post, vigilant, ready, and profitable to his hearers. 

But it is to the New Testament dispensation that we must 
more particularly look, for the designations of the Christian 
ministry. Accordingly, in the very first discourse of our 
blessed Lord to his disciples, he addresses them as "the salt 
of the earth," as "the light of the world." 

"The salt of the earth" — As having those doctrines com- 
mitted to their charge, by which the corruptions of our fallen 
nature may be arrested, the health of the soul restored, man 
renewed after the image of him who created him, and fitted 
for that state of never ending happiness, prepared for the 
righteous in the kingdom of God. "The light of the world" 
— As commissioned to declare to those who sat in darkness and 
the shadow of death, the terms of the new covenant of peace 
and reconciliation. In subsequent communications he ad- 



ORDINATION, OR INSTITUTION. 393 

dresses tliem as stewards, as shepherds, and last of all as 
preachers and teachers. To each of these designations ap- 
propriate duties and obligations are annexed. 

As stewards — In this branch of our office, it is required 
that we shall have an intimate knowledge of the supplies 
provided in the spiritual treasury of God's word, for the sup- 
port and 'comfort of the household and family of Christ. In- 
finite, almost, is the variety of condition, both in sinful de- 
basement and spiritual attainment, among mankind; equally 
varied and extensive are the stores of instruction and rebuke, 
of exhortation and edification, contained in the sacred scrip- 
tures of our faith. To the unbelieving, impenitent, and un- 
godly, the terrors of the Lord are to be denounced; to the 
humble, contrite, broken hearted sinner, the comforts of the 
gospel, of the grace of God, are to be administered; and to 
the obedient persevering believer, the assurances of glory 
and immortality and eternal life are to be held full in view. 
It is moreover required of stewards, even in temporal things, 
that a man he found faithful; how much more then in those 
to whose care are committed the unsearchable riches of 
■Christ, must faithfulness abound. Pray for us, dear breth- 
ren, that as good stewards of the manifold grace of God, we 
may so fulfil our trust, that when called to render an account 
•of our stewardship, we may do it with joy and not with grief. 

As shepherds — Perhaps no comparison is more frequent in 
the scriptures (I am sure none can be more descriptive) than 
this, of the people of God to a flock of sheep; and that flock 
scattered by the violence of an enemy; wandering, weary 
and fainting, without a guide to .direct them back to the fold. 
Peculiarly applicable was it to that period of time, when our 
blessed Lord declared himself the shepherd of the sheep. 
And as it was prophecied, that he should "feed his flock like 
a shepherd, gathering the lambs with his arms, carrying 
them in his bosom, and gently leading those that are with 
young," so in event was it fulfilled by him, who came "to 
seek and to save that which was lost; who went about doing 
good; seeking the lost sheep of the house of Israel." With 
this designation of our office, he hath left us the bright ex- 
ample of his labor, patience, and unwearied diligence in the 
discharge of duty. We are exhorted accordingly by his 



394 ORDINATION, OR INSTITUTION. 

apostles, particularly by the apostle Peter, to "feed the flock 
of God which is among as, taking the oversight thereof; not 
by constraint, but willingly, not for filthy lucre, but of a 
ready mind; neither as being lords over God's heritage, but 
being ensamples to the flock." And with strict propriety 
does this exhortation come from him, to whom was thrice 
emphaticallj 7 committed the charge of feeding the lambs and 
sheep of his divine master. "Pray for us," then, dear brethren, 
that in the labor of love, patience of hope, and diligence of 
duty, we may be unwearied, ever abounding in the work of 
our Lord and master; feeding his lambs with the sincere milk 
of the word, and his sheep with the nourishing food of the 
bread of life. "Pray for us," that those who have strayed 
from the fold may hear the voice which calleth them to re- 
turn to the shepherd and bishop of their souls. That there 
may be one fold and one shepherd, one flock and one accla- 
mation of praise and thanksgiving, to him that sitteth on the 
throne and to the Lamb forever. 

As preachers and teachers — Hear the words of our com- 
mission. "All power is given unto me in heaven and in 
earth, saith our blessed Lord. "Go ye therefore into all 
the world, and preach the gospel to every creature; teaching 
them to observe all things, whatsoever I have commanded 
you." My hearers, can a commission be couched in more 
comprehensive terms? Can human ingenuity devise lan- 
guage more inclusive and general in its expression? I think 
nut; and understanding it as I do, unclogged with any secret 
degree of pretention, or absolute reprobation, it is not only 
my duty but my delight, to offer the grace and mercy of the 
gospel to all men; and to obey the gracious commandment, 
that repentance and remission of sins should be preached 
among all nations, in his name, "who by the grace of God 
tasted Death for every man." This is the true gospel of Je- 
sus Christ, the "glad tidings of great joy, which shall be to 
all people." 

With this message of love committed to us, how diligent 
ought we to be, in following the bright example of our divine 
master, who early and late, in public and in private, in the 
temple, in the synagogue, on the mountain, on the plain, 
and journeying by the way, was ever intent on his Father's 



ORDINATION, OK INSTITUTION. 395 

business. Anointed as he was in a peculiar manner, "to 
preach the gospel to the poor, to heal the broken-hearted, to 
preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight 
to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach 
the acceptable year of the Lord,*' so to his ministers in all 
ages is this holy trust committed. "As my Father hath sent 
me, even so send I you, and he breathed on them and saith 
unto them, receive ye the Holt Ghost; whosesoever sins ye 
remit they are remitted unto them, and whosesoever sins ye 
retain they are retained; and lo, I am with you always, unto 
the end of the world." Sacred deposit, awful authority, 
blessed promise — "But we have this treasure in earthen 
vessels." Pray for us, dear brethren, that we may be 
strengthened from above "to preach the wOrd, to be instant, 
in season, out of season, reproving, rebuking, exhorting, with 
all long-suffering and doctrine." "Pray for us," that we may 
be so taught of the spirit of wisdom as to "speak the things 
that become sound doctrine, showing ourselves approved 
unto God, workmen that need not to be ashamed, rightly 
dividing the word of truth." "Pray for us," that the spirit 
of meekness, gentleness, patience, long-suffering, faith, and 
charity, may so dwell in us, and abound, that God may be 
glorified by the shining of our light before men: and that as 
ensamples to the flock, we may with a good conscience say 
to them, "be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ." 

There is, however, one more designation of our sacred 
office, which, were I to fail to point out to you, would argue 
on my part too limited an actpaintance with its duties to 
warrant my occupying any station in the ministry of recon- 
ciliation. "Now then (says the apostle Paul) we are ambas- 
sadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us; we 
pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God." 

Surely, brethren and friends, this proof of the condescend- 
ing mercy of God ought to humble us in the dust before him. 
What! shall the king eternal, immortal, invisible, the only 
wise God, propose terms of peace, of pardon and reconcili- 
ation, to his rebellious creatures — shall he, who has no need 
of the sinful man, condescend, as it were, to beseech us to 
throw down the arms of our rebellion and return to our 
allegiance — shall the proof of his merciful intentions towards 



396 ORDINATION, OK INSTITUTION. 

the creatures of his power, evidenced by long suffering pa- 
tience, by continued preservation, by a rich and varied pro- 
vision for all our wants, and to crown the whole, by the gift 
of his only, his beloved Son, produce no softening effect upon 
our hard and stony hearts? God forbid, my hearers, for 
"how shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?" 

But as ambassadors we have our credentials to you, and 
our instructions for you; we come not in our own name or 
authority, or as ministers plenipotentiary, with discretionary 
powers, authorized to cut, and carve, and trim the terms of 
the new covenant, according to the whim and caprice of 
shortsighted, thoughtless, sinful mortals. No indeed — but 
with the commission of Christ, with directions full, plain, 
and precise. Hear a few of them, from this sacred store- 
house of divine wisdom: "say ye to the righteous, that it shall 
be well with him; for they shall eat the fruit of their doings; 
woe unto the wicked, it shall be ill with him, for the reward 
-of his hands shall be given him." "When the wicked man 
turnetli away from his wickedness that he hath committed, 
and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his 
•soul alive." "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the un- 
righteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto the 
Lord and he will have mercy upon him, and to our God, for 
he will abundantly pardon." "God so loved the world that 
he s&ve his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on 
him should not perish, but have everlasting life." "God 
now commandeth all men every where to repent; because he 
hath appointed a day in which he will judge the world in 
righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof 
he hath given assurance unto all men in that be hath raised 
him from the dead." "Tribulation and anguish upon every 
•soul of man that doeth evil; but glory, honor, and peace to 
•every man that worketh good. For the wrath of God is re- 
vealed from heaven, against all ungodliness and unrighteous- 
ness of men." It were an easy matter to multiply quotations 
•of this kind; enough, I think, is produced to prove that our 
line is marked out; and I would hope to excite a desire in 
you to search the Scriptures for the terms of that reconcilia- 
tion purchased by Jesus Christ, for a ruined world. 

Men and brethren, hear the soul-reviving, heart cheering 



ORDINATION, OK INSTITUTION. 397 



truth — God is reconciled, for what Christ hath done and suf- 
fered for us; and the great embassy on which the ministers- 
of Christ are still sent, is to persuade, nay to pray you, be 
ye on your part reconciled to God. Come, then, my fellow 
sinner; let not unbelief of this precious truth keep thee at a 
distance from the mercies of the gospel. Come unto him 
who is "our peace, and suffered that he might reconcile both 
unto God, in one body, by the cross, having slain the enmity 
thereby. For it pleased the Father that in him should all 
fulness dwell; and, (having made peace by the blood of his 
cross) by him to reconcile all things to himself; and you/ 7 
my Christian brethren, "that were sometime alienated, and 
enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he re- 
conciled, in the body of his flesh, through death." 

Thus argues the apostle Paul, in his epistles to the Ephe- 
sians and Colossians; in those to the Corinthians the same 
doctrine is maintained, and in that to the Romans, it is 
placed even beyond the reach of a cavil. "But God (saith 
the apostle,) commencleth his love towards us, in that while 
we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Much more then, 
being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from 
wrath through him. For if when we were enemies, we were 
reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being 
reconciled, we shall be saved by his life." Merciful God, 
open the hearts of this people to receive and apply the word 
of reconciliation, that they may have peace with thee, through 
Jesus Christ our Lord! 

And "pray for us," dear brethren, that in all the varied 
offices of the ministry, whether as watchmen, as stewards, as 
shepherds, as preachers, teachers, and ambassadors, we may 
hold fast the faithful word — "looking unto Him who is head! 
over all things to the Church, and who is the author and fin- 
isher of our faith." 

Pray also for yourselves. O that I could impress on your 
very souls the necessity of earnest, fervent, persevering 
prayer, both in public and in private. Nearly in vain shall 
we preach, and worse than in vain will you hear, if prayer, 
mighty prayer, bring not down upon us the refreshing dew 
of God's blessing. At no time, and under no circumstances,, 
can your assembling yourselves together for the worship of 



SOS ORDINATION, OR INSTITUTION. 

God be indifferent or neutral in its consequences — of neces- 
sity you must be benefited or injured, and that for eternity. 
"Take heed then how ye hear — for whosoever hath, to him 
shall be given, and whosoever hath not, from him shall be 
taken even that which he seemeth to have." Surely, my 
friends, the tremendous alternatives of death and judgment 
might be expected to take some hold on even the most giddy 
and thoughtless. But alas for man — poor fallen man! How 
seldom do the world, the flesh, and the devil, permit a seri- 
ous thought to enter the mind, at least to be entertained 
there. The old deception, u Ye shall not surely die," is yet 
listened to. And to this day, thousands reject the counsel 
of God against their own souls, and are called into eternity 
without an interest in, yea, without even knowing the terms 
of that reconciling mercy, purchased by the sufferings and 
death of God's dear Son. God forbid, dear friends, that any 
of ns should listen to the svren son^ of the destrover. What 
deep damnation shall we of this favored land deserve, if we 
continue to slight the warning voice of the gospel, if we pre- 
fer the darkness of our own foolish hearts and vain imaoina- 
tions to that clear Keht which once again shines to conduct 
us to our everlasting happiness. "God hath not appointed 
us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus 
Christ." Behold the proof in the light of the gospel, to guide 
you to your everlasting peace, in the appointment of a min- 
istry, to instruct, to reason with, to persuade, yea, to beseech 
you by all the unutterable consequences, suspended on this 
our probationary state, to look to the end, to weigh in the 
balances of the sanctuary, the favor of God, with the utmost 
supposable advantage and enjoyment which this world can 
bestow. O that you could, O that you would, feel for your- 
selves, for your immortal souls, what every true minister of 
the Lord Jesus feels for you; that you would but believe 
them to be actuated by a heartfelt desire to promote your 
eternal welfare, that in all the varied offices of ministerial 
duty, this one sentiment is paramount, as most effectually 
promoting the glory of God in the salvation of sinners. 

"I speak as unto wise men, judge ye what I say." Is 
there an assignable motive, other than an imperious sense of 
duty, a burning love for souls, to press men into this service? 



ORDINATION, OR INSTITUTION. 399 



Is it the road to advancement in temporal dignities, honors, 
and emoluments? Does it hold out the enticement of an in- 
dolent, sinecure enjoyment of liie? Does it even contribute 
to the vapor-like acquisition of the praise of men? In no 
wise. Surely the meed of sincerity may be allowed to us — 
assuredly might we expect to be heard with interest; and 
when a faithful discharge of duty called for animadversion 
and reproof, with attention and charitable regard, "we seek 
not .yours, but you.'' Shut not your ears against us, and the 
message wherewith we are intrusted; it is at the peril of our 
souls if we fail to warn the wicked of his wav: it is to our 
everlasting reproach, if we prophecy smooth things, crying 
"Peace, where there is no peace," daubing up with "untem- 
pered mortar," the chasms and the breaches which the as- 
saults of the enemy have made in the temple of the Lord. 
And it will be to your everlasting loss, if, "not enduring 
sound doctrine, but heaping to yourselves teachers, having 
itching ears, ye turn away from the truth, and are turned 
unto fables; if, forsaking the fountain of living waters, you 
hew out to yourselves cisterns, brolien cisterns, which can 
hold no water." 

My hearers, especially you my brethren of the Church, I 
would bespeak your favor for myself and for nry brothers in 
the ministry. Israel is conflicting w T ith Amalek, the Church 
of the living God is at issue with the world; which would ye 
should prevail? Your unbiased judgment, I know, speaks 
in behalf of the religion of the gospel. Be faithful then to 
that judgment, and as Aaron and Hur supported the arms 
of Moses, when lifted up in prayer, that Israel after the flesh 
might prevail in the conflict; so do ye support the hands, and 
strengthen the spirit, of your aged pastor, that victory in the 
spiritual contest may crown his efforts. Let him not be to 
you as the prophet Ezekiel was to the Jews — "a very lovely 
song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on 
an instrument." It was the reproach of Israel of old, (I be- 
seech you let it not be yours also,) that to the prophets sent 
among them — "with their mouth they showed much love, 
but their heart went after their covetousness." O while it is 
called to-day, while the day of grace and salvation is within 
your reach, harden not your hearts, but let the morning mer- 



400 ORDINATION, OR INSTITUTION. 

cies and evening favors of a gracious God lead you to repent- 
ance. Hard indeed must that heart be, and deeply rooted 
that depravity, which stands aloof from God's reconciling 
love — heareth not the voice of the charmer, charm he never 
so wisely — neither listens to the voice of the law written in 
the heart by the Holt Spirit, sent to convince of sin, of 
righteousness, of judgment. 

To that awful judgment, brethren and friends, we are all 
fast hastening. With what emotions do we entertain the 
solemn thought? Do we desire or do we dread that day, 
which, removing this veil of flesh and blood, shall display 
alike the glories and the horrors of the invisible world — shall 
summon you and your pastor, and your poor servant, and all 
who have spoken to you the words of this life, as witnesses 
for and against each other; even this day's warning,. light as 
some may make of it, shall not pass unnoticed; it must so 
far clear or condemn me, must benefit or^injure you. Ex- 
amine yourselves, dear friends, by every test; you cannot be 
too sure — take this as one: In serious, solemn retirement, put 
the awful question to yourselves, "Soon as from earth I go, 
what will become of me." And may the God of mercy, the 
God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, enable you to 
come at the true answer. 

Now to Him who is able, and mighty, and willing to save 
us; to the only wise God and our Saviour, be glory, and hon- 
or, and praise, world without end. Amen. 






SERMON XIII. 



AN ORDINATION SERMON. 



2 Corinthians, iv. 5. 

"For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jescs the Lord, and ourselves 
ycur servants, for Jesus' sake." 

The grounds and motives for undertaking the ministerial 
office, and the principle which should preside over all other 
considerations in the performance of it, are both set before 
us in the words of my text; and coupled with the apostolic 
example, give us readily to perceive both the weight of the 
duty, and the arduous nature of the undertaking. 

It presents, also, to those for whose benefit the ministry is 
instituted, those considerations which render the appointment 
of a distinct order of men to minister in sacred things, profit- 
able at once to edification and assurance on those high and 
holy interests which form the ultimate expectation of im- 
mortal beings. 

The purpose before us, then, my reverend and lay breth- 
ren, being one of common concern and common advantage, 
I shall endeavor so to frame the enlargement I propose to, 
make of the text, as to contribute to our joint benefit. To 
this end, I shall, 

First, consider what we are to understand as the apostle's 
meaning in the, first clause of the text — "We preach not 
ourselves." 

Secondly, I will endeavor to explain what it is, in the 
Scripture sense, to preach Christ. 

Thirdly, I will make some remarks on the motives which 
should govern, in undertaking the ministerial office. 

Fourthly, On the duties involved in this office, both to 
ministers and people; and, then, 
. Conclude with a short application of the subject. 

"For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; 

and ourselves your servants, for Jesus' sake." 
[Vol. l,— *2C] 



402 AX ORDINATION SERMON. 

I. First, I am to consider what we are to understand as 
the apostle's meaning in the first clause of the text — "We 
preach not ourselves/' 

The method by which St. Paul and the other apostles of 
our Lord were qualified and commissioned to preach the 
gospel, and the manner in which they performed this duty, 
aru a sufheieut comment on this passage of Scripture, and 
instruct us, that as St. Paul received it not from man, so 
neither did lie preach it as the attainment of any knowledge 
or wisdom of his own, hut as a direct revelation from the 
Lokb Jesus Christ. As such, he proposed it in its original 
plainness and simplicity, to Jew and Gentile, as the doctrine 
of life and salvation; and stood prepared to demonstrate it to 
he such, both by arguments of reason and miraculous proofs 
of divine attestation. 

By not preaching ourselves, then, we are to understand 
in the first and highest sense, the keeping present in our own 
minds, and pressing upon the consciences of our hearers, 
that the truths preached to them are nut systems of human 
contrivance, or inventions of human wisdom, or yet the pro- 
iitahle conclusions of moral science, for present advantage to 
the world; hut "the true sayings of God, the wisdom of God 
in a mystery, now made manifest, and commanded to he 
preached among all nations for the obedience of faith." 
This is the only ground, my friends, upon which we can 
preach, or you ©an hear, to edification. Upon any other 
principle, the gospel degenerates into a mere system of ethics, 
and ministers of religion, instead of being, and being regard- 
ed as, ''Stewards of the mysteries of God," descend into the 
comparatively insignificant station of teachers of morality. 
The connexion between morals and religion is indeed very 
close, yet is there this never to be forgotten distinction be- 
twixt them, a distinction peculiarly required to be inculcated 
in the present day. True religion necessarily includes the 
highest attainments in morals; whereas no advancement in 
morality, as such, necessarily includes any religious attain- 
ment at all. 

That the ministers of Christ, then, assume this ground, 
and hold it as the very essence of their calling and office, is 
indispensable both to themselves and their hearers. Without 



AN OEDINATION SEEMON. 



4:03 



this engraven on their own hearts, and manifested in the 
tenor of their lives, and pressed upon the hearts, and exhort- 
ed to in the lives of their hearers, they will soon cease to 
respect themselves, and their hearers to respect them, through 
their sacred office. 

Another and very important sense in which we are to 
understand the apostle's meaning in these words, is, that we 
•do not preach the gospel from unworthy and improper motives. 

To preach for popularity, is in the truest sense, to preach 
ourselves; to lit our public or private duties to the wishes, 
rather than to the wants of our hearers, is literally to "speak 
unto them smooth things, to prophesy deceits;" to frame our 
-discourses rather to tickle the itching ears, than to search 
the sinful hearts of our charge, is to surrender the fidelity we 
owe to God to the fear or the favor of man; to seek for oppor- 
tunities of displaying particular talents; to be ambitious of 
shining and attracting notice, betrays a degree of pride and 
vanity, and of confidence in our own powers, which has for- 
gotten that our sufficiency is of God; and to preach the gospel 
for the sake of the emoluments of the gospel, for filthy lucre, 
as St. Peter calls it, is truly to serve mammon and not God. 
All these, in their different degrees, come under the descrip- 
tion of preaching ourselves, and ought to have no place either 
in the motives which prompt us to desire the sacred office, or 
which govern us in performing it. 

That St. Paul was superior to all such considerations, is 
demonstrated by his whole history. His foundation was, 
that the gospel is from God; as such he believed, and as such 
lie preached it, in the plainness and simplicity of its con- 
vincing and saving truth. In natural and acquired abilities, 
inferior to none, and inspired withal, he yet tells the Corin- 
thians, that his "speech and his preaching was not with the 
enticing words of man's wisdom." Nor could the taunts and 
scoffs of his adversaries, the false teachers, draw him away 
from that great plainness of speech which he used. His de- 
sire was to win souls to Cueist, not to acquire the praise of 
men for himself. His ambition was to shine as a Christian, 
not as an orator or philosopher. As he had personally expe- 
rienced the efficacy of Cueist as a Saviour, he determined 
to know nothing in his preaching, "but Jesus Cueist, and 



40-i AN OEDIXATIOX SEEMON. 

him crucified*' — and he gives as his reason, "that Your faith 
should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of 
God." And, as it is the same gospel which we have to 
preach, as the same gracious purpose is yet to be answered 
by it, eo are the same means to be used, and the same motives 
to govern the hearts of all who undertake this holy office. 
The ministers of Cueist are not now, indeed, inspired men; 
nor do they receive the gospel by direct revelation. These 
are supplied, and sufficiently supplied, by the recorded 
Scriptures, by learning and study, and by the ordinary influ- 
ences of the Holy SriEiT. These, in the wisdom of God, are 
the substitutes for those miraculous endowments which trans- 
formed illiterate fishermen into able ministers of the New 
Testament; and as such are to be diligently applied by us. 
iSTor is there wanting an equally satisfactory attestation of 
the commission to preach and baptize, with that furnished 
to the first Christians by the miracles of the apostles. As ia 
every age of the world this is needed to give assurance to 
faith, in the infinite interests of eternity, God hath beew 
pleased to provide it for every age, in the transmission of 
the original commission to them, bv succession from them, 
through the bishops of the Church. Nor is it conceived upon* 
what other possible, and at the same time rational, principle, 
one set of men can venture to preach the gospel as a revela- 
tion from heaven, and the rest of mankind become guilty 
before God for refusing to believe and obey the gospel. For, 
of necessity, and upon every known principle of equity, if 
the obligation to believe and obey the gospel now be just as- 
strong and binding as at the first, the means of ascertaining 
that it is the gospel, and performing with full assurance the 
duties required by the gospel, must either be the same as at 
the first, or equivalent in moral obligation. But, this being 
undeniably the case, the ministers of Cueist in this day are 
as much bound by apostolic example as Christians in general 
are by apostolic authority. Ministers are not to "preach 
themselves, but Cheist Jesus the Loed." Private Christians 
are to "receive with meekness the- engrafted word which is 
able to save their souls." 

II. Secondly, I am to explain what it is, in the Scrij)ture 
sense, to preach Cueist — "we preach not ourselves, but 
Christ Jesus the Loed." 



i 



AN ORDINATION SERMON, 40 $ 

As we can hardly open the Scriptures of our faith, iny 
brethren and hearers, without being presented with some- 
thins which relates to our Lord Jesus Christ, so neither can 
a Christian minister frame an admonition, or an exhortation, 
a reproof of sin, or an encouragement to virtue, a source of 
comfort in time, or hope in eternity — which does not begin, 
continue, and end in him. Abstracted from Christ, lie has 
neither a motive, or an argument, or a hope, or a help, or a 
promise, for himself or others. Being without God in the 
world, there is nothing sure to man but death and fear. As 
a minister of religion, moreover, he must speak in the name 
of Christ, he must speak iri the words of Christ — he must 
act by the authority of Christ — he must speak to the re- 
deemed of CnRisT, to those who shall be judged by Christ, 
and who, without Christ, can do nothing acceptable to God, 
or profitable to themselves. 

But to be more particular. 

To preach Christ with effect, men must first be showed 
their need of him — in what it is that he is so all-important 
to their welfare — to their peace with God here, to their hope 
hereafter. As the sick only require the physician, men must 
have their disease pointed out and brought home to them 
before they will seek the remedy for it. 

The fallen condition of human nature, then, the curse of 
God weighing it down to eternal death, and the entire loss of 
all spiritual capacity in the natural man, must be laid as the 
foundation, and this foundation must be laid both wide and 
deep, and entire — no otherwise can the building of God be 
raised in its due proportions, and to its proper height, and 
to its happy issue, in a recovered and sanctified creature. To 
treat this fundamental doctrine lightly, then; to take it for 
granted, and, therefore, only now and then allude to it; to 
skim it over and avoid its pointed application to every soul 
that liveth, is to bury the gospel and all its glad tidings to a 
world of sinners, in the grave of revealed religion. For of 
what worth is salvation to him who is not lost? Wherefore 
should he accept deliverance, who is unconscious of his cap- 
tivity, and in love with his fetters? And what form or come- 
liness is there in Jesus Christ, to men who have not learnt 
the depth of their own undoing in the first Adam, and the 



406 AN ORDINATION SERMON. 

absolute impossibility of recovery to God, through themselves? 
Here, then, my reverend brethren, we must take orar stand; 
on this doctrine, wide as the world, universal as its popula- 
tion, and absolute as death, must the gospel be preached. It 
is God's gracious discovery, confirmed by all we know of 
ourselves and others, and witnessed to every heart in the tear 
and anxieties which render death terrible, and haunt our 
forebodings of eternity with despair. 

This foundation being laid — to preach Cueist with effect, 
the stewards of the mysteries of God must open up from the 
faithful word the fulness and sufficiency of Cueist in all his 
offices, and the duty of redeemed creatures. Under this dis- 
play of the love of God to sinners, St. Paul calls it "the un- 
searchable riches of Christ," and so full was he of its un- 
speakable value, that he never approaches towards the men- 
tion of it, in any argument or exhortation, that he does not 
seem transported, as it were, and stops, or steps aside to re- 
fresh himself at this perpetual feast. 

The building, however, to be secure, must proceed in or- 
der, with recovery by Cueist; men must be taught the neces- 
sitv of renewal by his Spirit — of that deep and radical change 
of the inner man, of the heart and affections, of the will and 
desires which constitute the new creature — that birth from 
above — that being born of the Spirit, which alone qualifies 
the new creature for his new duties. And this also is a fun- 
damental doctrine, to be pressed upon the attainment of all 
Who would be joint heirs with Cueist of a heavenly inheri- 
tance. "Except a man be born of the Spieit, he cannot en- 
ter into the kingdom of God." To treat this doctrine lightly, 
then, or to content ourselves with merely telling men that 
they must be born again, is literally "shutting up the king- 
dom of heaven against men." Xo, my brethren, the minister 
of Christ must not only declare the doctrine, but instruct 
also how to apply it — must show the steps to be taken, and 
the exertions to be made, and the source to be applied to, in 
order to obtain this blessing. Here, particularly, he must 
show that he is a "scribe instructed unto the kingdom of 
heaven, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new 
and old." And here caution and experience are indispensa- 
ble, "lest the hurt of the daughter of my people be healed 



AX ORDINATION SERMON. 407 

slightly." As there are degrees of sin and guilt, so are there 
also of conviction; as there are diversities of operations by 
the same Spirit, so are there also of manifestations. The 
ordinary and the extraordinary are not to be confounded, but 
the seasonable counsel of the word is to be dealt out to each 
as need shall require. In one thing, however, both ordinary 
and extraordinary unite, and that is, newness of life. This 
is the true and unerring standard to which to bring the re- 
ality of every conversion by the Spirit of God. This is his 
unvarying testimony, nor can it be disputed. The wind in- 
deed bloweth where it listeth — it may be a storm, or it may 
be a refreshing gale, or it may be a gentle breeze. It is 
however the same agent, visible only in its effects; "so also 
is every one that is born of the Spirit." 

In connexion, however, with this practical application of 
revealed truth, through the primary doctrine of man's fallen 
state, all that Jesus Christ is to his recovery and salvation, 
is brought into view, is brought near, and bound up as it 
were with every step, from darkness to light, and from the 
power of Satan to God. Conviction of sin, the first step to 
conversion, is the work of the spirit of God, purchased to 
this very end by the undertaking of the Son of God for fallen 
men. Repentance from dead works to serve the living God 
is the work of the same Spirit, rendered available to the 
pardon of past and forsaken sin only through the satisfaction 
made to the divine justice by the death of Christ; and the 
pardon of sin, repented and forsaken, is no otherwise to be 
had than through the atonement made by his blood shed 
upon the cross for the sins of the whole world. These ope- 
rations of the Holy Ghost upon men, though now sensible 
and visible only in their effects, are nevertheless vital reali- 
ties, revealed to faith and by faith received. They are to be 
preached, therefore, that they may be known and expected, 
that they may be sought for and obtained, and as faith in the 
Lord Jesus Christ includes these benefits, therefore they are 
virtually expressed in the frequent exhortation, "Believe in 
the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." 

In preaching these doctrines, therefore, we preach Christ 
Jesus the Lord; for only as they are kept in connexion with 
his undertaking for sinners, and relied upon for acceptance 



40 S AN ORDINATION SERMON. 

through faith in his name, are they effectual to us. Convic- 
tion of sin overtakes every sinner, when his sin finds him 
out. Repentance for sin necessarily and unavoidably takes 
place when the consequences of sin are to be encountered; 
but this is devoid of any spiritual or saving character: it is 
the mere sorrow of the world. It might be admitted, per- 
haps, in a code purely moral; but can have no place in the 
higher and purer code of religion. Morality respects only 
the present life; religion looks beyond it, even to life eternal, 
in the presence of God. 

Hence I think we may understand why it was that St. 
Paul confined himself to this one point in preaching; and 
may learn, that by preaching Christ Jesus the Lord, and 
"determining to know nothing among the Corinthians but 

O C? CD 

Jesus Christ and him crucified,' 1 he did not mean that the 
name of Christ, or the sufferings of Christ, or faith in his 
name, or reliance upon his merits, were to form the subject 
matter of public preaching exclusively — but rather, that as 
his undertaking for us gave worth and efficacy to any endea- 
vors of ours to propitiate God, and regain his favor, that 
therefore they were not to be separated, but that Christians 
should be continually instructed to look to him, and the 
atonement of his cross, as the ground of their acceptance 
with God. 

In like manner also, in building up believers in their most 
holy faith, the Christian minister preaches continually Christ 
Jesus the Lord. He preaches him as the pattern and exam- 
ple of every divine perfection in righteousness and true ho- 
liness — of cheerful submission to the will of God — of patience 
under affliction — of compassion for the sufferings, and active 
benevolence in relieving the wants, of all around him — of 
love, even to his enemies, and forgiveness of his very mur- 
derers. And he preaches him as the source of supply for 
all spiritual grace, to the attainment "of the mind that was 
in Christ," by all his followers. "Whatsoever ye do, in word 
or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jescjs," is the con- 
stant exhortation of the faithful ministers; and in every strait, 
in ever}' trial, in the season of sickness and suffering, and at 
the approach of death, "look unto Jesus, the author and fin- 
isher of your faith, who, for the joy that was set before him, 



AN ORDINATION SERMON. 409 

endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at 
the right hand of the throne of God," is the animating en- 
couragement he holds out "to fight the good fight of faith, and 
lay hold on eternal life." Thus is Christ Jesus the Lord, 
"the alpha and omega, the first and the last," with the faith- 
ful minister who watches for souls, as one who for souls must 
give account. Even when his subject does not directly re- 
quire that it be mentioned, there is yet a seasoning and a 
savor of Christ to be perceived, which marks the mainspring 
of all his exertions — which gives point and impression to his 
doctrine, startling the sinner from his security, and carrying 
hope and comfort to the heart of the believer. With Christ 
in his heart, and Christ upon his lips, the Christian minister 
"preaches to edification, to exhortation, to comfort — he 
preaches not himself but Christ Jesus the Lord, and himself 
your servant for Jesus' sake." 

III. Thirdly, I am to make some remarks on the motives 
which should govern, in undertaking the ministerial office. 

These, I am fully persuaded, should be purely spiritual in 
their origin, pressed upon the heart by the well considered, 
conviction, that it is a duty specially'' required by Almighty 
God, and only in this way to be fulfilled: nothing less than 
this, it appears to me, can enable a candidate for the minis- 
try to answer the solemn question — "Do you trust that you 
are inwardly moved by the Holy Ghost to take upon you 
this office and ministration?" with a good conscience. As 
this, however, is a point of experience, it must in a great de- 
gree be left to the determination of him who alone can read 
the heart. I say in a great degree, because there are cases 
in which there can be no difficulty in determining the point 
both affirmatively and negatively. For instance, where the 
requisite qualifications of natural or acquired ability are ac- 
companied by known and tried piety; and such a person pro- 
fesses to be moved by the Holt Ghost to take upon him the 
ministerial office; all the assurance is given that the nature of 
the case either demands or admits of; but if either piety or 
the requisite qualifications of natural or acquired ability be 
wanting, there is equally satisfactory assurance, that the per- 
son thus professing labors under some delusion of mind, or 
comes forward to deceive; because, as without piety the 



410 AN OKDINATION SERMON. 

Holy Ghost cannot be presumed to call any man, so neither 
is it to be allowed, since miraculous endowments have ceased, 
that he will call one unqualified: the most that can possibly 
be conceded to such instances being, that the call remain 
unacted upon until suitable qualifications be obtained, by 
reading and study, to enable him to answer the call. 

In subordination to this, as supreme, all other motives good 
in themselves, and allowable to the Christian ministry — the 
respect attached to the office in Christian lands, the advan- 
tage he may be of to others, the credit, he may humbly hope, 
he will confer on the cause of religion — these, as they natu- 
rally tend to diligence and circumspection, are not to be de- 
nied to the ministers of Christ, or denounced as inconsistent 
with the inward motions of the Holy JSi'jrit; what we have 
to guard against is, that they be not mistaken or allowed for 
the first and highest motive of all. Neither are we to con- 
sider the necessary accommodations of this life as unlawful, 
among the subordinate motives which govern our choice of 
this calling. As Goo hath appointed that they "who preach 
the gospel should live of the gospel," they have not only a 
claim, in common with all other professions, to reasonable 
compensation for their services, but they have this claim 
sanctioned by divine warrant, and may lawfully require such 
support as shall free them from worldly care and anxiety, 
and enable them to apply wholly to their great work. And 
did Christians duly consider the dignity of the office, its in- 
finite importance to their own comfort, or the credit of reli- 
gion in general, there would not be such just ground for 
complaint, and reproach too, as there really is. Nothing 
marks a cold and declining state of religion more distinctly 
than indifference and reluctance to the comfortable support 
of those who minister to their spiritual wants. And if the 
public estimation in which any liberal profession is held, is 
justly measured by the remuneration awarded its practice, 
religion must be placed at the bottom of the scale, perhaps 
even lower than man}' merely mechanical callings. And this 
I speak of religion in general, believing that it is a subject 
upon which all denominations need edification, and also be- 
cause it is one on which individual clergymen feel a delicacy 
in speaking. But it might surely be considered, that, though 



AN ORDINATION SERMON. 411 

clergymen, they are yet men; that generally, they have fam- 
ilies to educate and provide for, and are cut off from all se- 
cular means to enable them to meet this want. Christian 
fathers and mothers might find, in their own anxieties on this 
near subject, wherewithal to measure the anxiety of the 
clergy, and to prompt them to aid in relieving it. 

IV. Fourthly, on the duties involved in this office, both to 
ministers and people. 

To the public duties of leading the devotions of the con- 
gregation, and preaching pure doctrine to the edification of 
his charge, the minister of Christ owes it to the usefulness 
of his office, to devote a part of his time to private commu- 
nication with his charge, that he may learn more nearly their 
spiritual state, and be better enabled to adapt both his pub- 
lic and private instructions to their immediate wants. But 
to do this with effect, it is absolutely necessary that free and 
unreserved interchange of sentiment be established between 
them; that it be considered a matter of duty, when the min- 
ister makes his appearance, that the conversation take the 
serious turn, which belongs to the occasion, and the object 
be to impart and to receive some spiritual benefit. It is in 
these more private interviews that the advantage derived 
from the public ministrations is confirmed — because it is in 
this way that doubts can be proposed and resolved, points of 
experience examined, reproof and encouragement more fitly 
administered, and any error detected before it become estab- 
lished into habit. 

But however evidently beneficial to both parties, on no 
point of duty is there greater difficulty to a clergyman than 
on this. His appearance is generally the signal for a dead 
silence; and if he prevails to break it by any general remark, 
so soon as he leads the subject to his purpose, he has it all to 
himself — hence there is neither pleasure nor profit to either, 
and it soon ceases to be attended to. This is exactly my own 
experience, with a very few exceptions, and I find it pretty 
much the same throughout. Even in visiting the sick and 
the dying, there is a strange reluctance to open up the state 
of their minds, and, consequently, very great difficulty in 
suiting our services to their wants. But, my Christian breth- 
ren, the loss is yours. The public services of your minister 



412 AN ORDINATION SERMON. 

are the least valuable. It is in your families, and in the 
counsel and admonition of private intercourse, that his know- 
ledge, experience, and spiritual attainments will be most pro- 
fitable; and that they be thus profitable, the state of your own 
hearts must be noticed and borne in mind — the difficulties 
you meet with in subduing temptation, and the progress you 
make in the divine life, should be subjects of constant atten- 
tion; so that the counsel of an experienced guide, who hath 
passed through the same exercises, may comfort and strength- 
en you in your course, and guard you against either the de- 
ceits of your own heart, or the snares of the enemy of souls. 
These things, in their minuteness and variety, cannot enter 
into the public instruction of the pulpit so as to suit every 
case, but they can well be attended to in this more private 
kind of preaching, in which ministers and people, and pri- 
vate Christians among themselves, can be so profitable to 
each other. 

Another duty involved in the office of a Christian minister 
is, attention to the lambs of the flock, in devoting a part of 
his time to instructing and catechising the children. But in 
this also, unless he is assisted by the parents, but little can 
be done; yet nothing of greater importance to religion, to so- 
ciety, to the Church, to time, and to eternity, can be men- 
tioned. Unless the foundation be laid in early life, small is 
the hope that the influence of religion will be the ornament 
of mature age — unless the good seed of the kingdom be sown 
in the heart before the thorns and the briers of the world 
have taken hold of its affections, the expectation is vain, or- 
dinarily speaking, that the fruit will be unto holiness. It 
may indeed be, but let it never be forgotten, that what may 
be may also not be, and that our best security for the event 
is, to follow as near as possible the directions of divine wis- 
dom — "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when 
.he is old he will not depart from it." 

These, with the additional duties of visiting the sick, and 
administering consolation to the afflicted; of watching the 
bed of death, and pointing the departing soul to Christ Je- 
sus the Lord; with the labor of study and preparation, and 
the paramount duty of personal religion — for ministers of re- 
Jigion have their own souls to save, as well as the souls of 



AN ORDINATION SERMON. 413 

those who hear them — show what a laborious, and anxious, 
and arduous, and deeply responsible calling, is the office of 
a minister of Christ; and this faint delineation of its duties 
may serve to convince Christians how much depends upon 
them for the comfort and usefulness of their pastors. It is a 
joint interest, my brethren — -an interest which oversteps the 
boundary of time — an interest which will flourish or lade in 
your descendants, according to the pains now bestowed upon 
it; and will-reward your diligence or punish your neglect? 
by an eternal re-union with those now so dear to you, in ev- 
erlasting blessedness or endless misery. 

Y. I come now to conclude with a short application of the 
subject. 

To you, my brethren, who are about to assume the full 
responsibility of this sacred office, all I have said has long, 
I trust, been familiar. But as it is safe, as it is profitable, to 
be reminded, on such deeply accountable duty, carry along 
with you into this undertaking, a higher impression than I 
have been able to express of its infinite importance to your- 
selves and others. If the consequences were limited to the 
present life only — well might caution exert itself in solemn 
warning and direction. But when they extend into eternity, 
when no calculation can limit the thousands, whose ever- 
lasting condition may take its unchangeable color from the 
faithfulness or the ne^liu'ence with which the trust this dav 
committed to you is fulfilled, language is exhausted of ex- 
pression, and the heart only can be appealed to, in those un- 
utterable workings of the deep and realizing sense of the ac- 
count to be given to God for souls, redeemed at the priceless 
ransom of the blood of his only begotten Son. Well did St. 
Paul say. "Who is sufficient for these things?" And well did 
he say, "Necessity is laid upon me, yea, woe is me, if I preach 
not the gospel." For who that could refuse it with a good 
conscience, would undertake this pre-eminence of toil and 
labor, and privation and responsibility? O it is a solemn 
trust, and but for the constraining power of "the love of 
Christ," could be undertaken by none. Yet the same blessed 
apostle hath told us, "Our sufficiency is of God — My grace 
is sufficient for thee," says Christ Jesus the Lord, to all his 
faithful ministers and members. To that grace then I remit 



414 AN ORDINATION SERMON. 

you, my brethren, with this exhortation, determine to know 
nothing but Jesus Christ, and him crucified— preach Christ 
the wisdom of God and the -power of God to every one that 
believeth — unfurl the banner of the cross, and, pointing to 
him who was lifted up upon it, proclaim him a prince and 
a saviour, exalted to give repentance and remission of sins 
to his people — proclaim him as the only name under heaven 
given, whereby tee may be saved, and as able to save to the 
uttermost all who come unto God by him. 

And may he who is head over all things to his Church, 
look with favor on our work, and add that blessing' which 
shall cause it to redound to his glory, the good of his Church, 
the safety, honor and welfare of his people, in the increase 
of pure and undetiled religion in this congregation. 

Now unto God the Father, (fee. 






SERMON XIV. 



CONSECRATION. 



Psalm, xciii. 5. (Last clause.) 
'•Holiness becometh thine house, Lord, for ever." 

We are not as much aware as we should he, my brethren 
and hearers, of the importance of applying to the words of 
any author, that meaning in which they were used by him — 
nor are we generally aware how much a change in the ori- 
ginal meaning of a particular word will affect the belief and 
the practice of the system to which it belongs. It is a mat- 
ter of experience also, that in the course of time, words do 
change, and sometimes even lose their original signification, 
and that great confusion of mind, as well as very serious dif- 
ficulty in arriving at truth, grows out of this cause. 

This is true of all sciences. They have each particular or 
leading words, to which a fixed and appropriate meaning is 
attached, and which can only be correctly understood, and 
advantageously applied, as that particular meaning is con- 
tinued in use. But it is more especially true of religion, and 
is proportionally important as that science excels all others 
in the magnitude of its discoveries, and in the excellencv of 
its knowledge. 

This may be made more familiar to you, my hearers, by 
an example. The words regeneration, and conversion, are 
used in the Scripture to express two things, as different from 
each other as cause and effect. Yet it has come to pass, that 
in popular acceptation, the word regeneration is applied, and 
almost exclusively, to what was originally expressed by the 
word conversion. Hence, it has come to pass, that Chris- 
tians generally have nearly lost sight, both of the idea and 
the thing intended in Scripture by the word regeneration; 
while nothing of force or of elucidation has thereby been 
added to the idea or to the thing intended in Scripture, by 
the word conversion. On the contrary, both confusion of 



416 CONSECRATION 

mind, as to the two doctrines, and injury to religion, as a 
reasonable and practical service, has been the consequence, 
as is known to all who, without explanation, have witnessed 
the administration of baptism according to the primitive me- 
thod which is pursued in the Episcopal Church. When the 
minister pronounces the child which lias just been baptized, 
regenerate, and calls upon the congregation to give thanks 
to Almighty God, that it hath pleased him to regenerate this 
infant with his Holy Spirit, persons who are not aware of 
the distinction between the two words are bewildered, while 
the more ignorant and conceited are prepared to sneer and 
scoff at the notion of an infant being converted. 

Thus one vital and fundamental doctrine of Christ's reli- 
gion is thrown entirely out of sight; another, no less essen- 
tial, is embarrassed with a difficulty which cannot be sur- 
mounted, and a holy sacrament, instituted by Cueist himself, 
is lowered in estimation, and degraded in the use. Yet, my 
Christian hearers, while the word of Christ stands, the sacra- 
ment of baptism will be the only sign and seal of our regen- 
eration to God. While common sense stands, spiritually 
dead creatures, such as fallen but redeemed men, must, in 
some way and at some time, be restored to spiritual capaci- 
ty, before it can be reasonable either to require them to lead 
religious lives, to exhort those who do not, to repentance, or 
possibly to produce their conversion. Regeneration, as ori- 
ginally understood, being the root of all religious capacity 
and obligation in redeemed man, must be previous in point 
of time, and independent of any qualification in man, but the 
necessity arising from original sin; whereas, conversion, in its 
original and proper meaning, being the actual change of 
heart and life in the wilful sinner, must be subsequent, not 
only to regeneration but to sin actually committed, and must 
be preceded by conviction of and sorrow for his sins, as of- 
fences against God, and be followed by a new life. 

Infante, as such, may be and are regenerated by the Holy 
Spirit; practical sinners only, previously regenerated, can 
and must be converted. Repentance and faith are not ne- 
cessary to regeneration; to conversion they are indispensable. 

Something of the same kind has taken place as to the 
meaning of many other leading words in the Christian sys- 



CONSECRATION. 417 

tern of faith and practice, amongst which the leading word 
in my text, holiness, is one; and requires to be noticed, not 
only on account of its connexion with the solemn ceremony 
which you have this day witnessed, but also for general edi- 
fication. The original and proper meaning of the word ho- 
liness, in Scripture, when spoken of men, invariably includes 
their separation to God, by the external appointments of re- 
ligion, as well as the moral effect of the means of grace ex- 
hibited in the deportment of the life. Whereas the modern 
notion of holiness is applied altogether to the latter, or moral 
effect, without any regard being had to whether the means 
of grace appointed by Almighty God have been duly used, 
or altogether neglected. In the following discourse, there- 
fore, I shall, 

First, explain the word holiness; and, 

Secondly, apply it to the various relations in which it is 
connected with religious condition. 

"Holiness becometh thine house, O Lord, for ever. 1 ' 

I. First to explain the word holiness. 

This word, as used in the Scriptures, hath both an absolute 
and a relative signification. In the absolute and unqualified 
sense, it belongs and is applied exclusively to Almighty God, 
who is essentially and underivedly pure, holy, and perfect 
beyond the comprehension of any created intelligence. In 
the relative or derived sense, the word holiness is applied to 
angels and men, to things inanimate, and even to places, as 
is instanced in my text. 

In this relative signification, and as applied to our condi- 
tion, my hearers, the word holiness denotes — First, Separa- 
tion to God, by his calling and appointment, evidenced by 
some external mark or religious rite by him appointed, to 
denote the condition. By this external separation individual 
persons, nations, things, and places, become, in a peculiar 
manner, the property of Almighty God, who is accordingly 
said to sanctify them to and for himself. Thus the prophet 
Jeremiah and John the Baptist were sanctified from the 
womb, to their respective ofiices. Thus the nation of the 
Jews was separated from the rest of the world by the calling 
of God, and made holy to the Lord by the rite of circumci- 
sion; and all Christian nations, by obeying the call of the 
[Vol. 1,— *27.] 



H8 CONSECRATION. 

gospel, and receiving* the ordinance of baptism, are sanctified 
to God as his peculiar people. Thus the tabernacle and the 
temple, their furniture and implements for the daily sacri- 
fice, with the priests and Levites who ministered therein, 
under the Old Testament dispensation, were holy to the Lord; 
and the Christian Church, with its buildings, its worship, its 
sacraments, and its ministry, under the New Testament dis- 
pensation, are sanctified and set apart to their respective 
uses, in the appointed service of Almighty God. This is 
sometimes called a legal holiness, and as such undervalued, 
and even by some derided; but not with understanding. For 
while religion shall continue to be the duty of redeemed 
man, the holiness which is derived from the express appoint- 
ment and institution of the author and finisher of our faith, 
must lie at the root of all rational comfort from its public 
ministrations, of all reasonable expectation of growth in 
grace, and of any good hope of its promised reward. 

II. Secondly — The word holiness, as applied to moral be- 
ings, denotes separation from the love and practice of sin; 
anion with God through Christ, by the renewal of the Holy 
Ghost; and conformity to the nature and will of God, in the 
conduct of the life. This is the holiness which it is the do- 
clared purpose of religion to produce and extend in a sinful 
world; for the furtherance of which all its institutions, ap- 
pointments, and ordinances are devised and adapted to the 
restored competency of moral beings, by the wisdom of God; 
to the attainment of which all Christians pledge themselves^ 
and without which, divine truth assures them, there is no 
salvation. 

Now my dear friends, as no man can sanctify himself in 
cither meaning of the Avord holiness; as it is the office of the 
Holy Ghost to prescribe the means, to provide the instru- 
ments, and to give effect to the work of grace, by renewing 
the heart, and maintaining the soul in holiness; it must be a 
most dangerous error to expect the end, either without the 
means which God hath prescribed, or with a part of them 
only, or in the use of other means, or of the means unlawful- 
ly administered. Yet to all this, the common notion and use 
ot the word holiness most certainly tends; as it is evident, 
..-in the disregard, and even neglect, of the sacraments in 



CONSECRATION. 419 

general, and from the indifference with which the ministe- 
rial commission, or authority to administer them, is regarded 
by the majority of professing Christians amongst ns. Yet 
while the world continues must it ever be a previous ques- 
tion, my brethren, with every serious person — am I in cove- 
nant with God? The answer to which can no otherwise be 
obtained than from actual conformity with those require- 
ments, both external and internal, both legal and moral, 
which God hath instituted, to give certainty and assurance 
to his people, on this cardinal point. And while God shall 
continue holy and unchangeable, all excusable mistake is 
provided against, in the clear delineation given us in the 
scriptures of what holiness consists in, and in the solemn de- 
claration that without it, "no man shall see the Lord." 

I come, in the next place, to apply the word, thus ex- 
plained, to the various relations in which it is connected 
with religious condition. 

I. And first to the people of God. Holiness becometh 
them. 

All men are the creatures of God; but all men are not the 
people of God, in the scriptural meaning of that expression. 
This is a distinction which Almighty God confers, according 
to the good pleasure of his own will, as is manifest by the 
present condition of the world, by far the greater part of 
which is yet under the dominion of darkness, alike ignorant 
of God, and of his revealed mercies in Christ Jesus. 

Who then are to be considered as the people of God? To 
this the scriptures teach us to answer — first, those whom God 
hath called to the knowledge of his grace by the gospel, are 
thereby, and therefore, designated as his people. This is the 
most usual sense in which the expression, the people of God, 
is applied in the scriptures. Secondly, in a more scriptural 
sense, the people of God are those who, out of the body of 
this community, make a profession of religion, and conform 
to its laws and regulations. These, with their children, form, 
properly speaking, the visible Church of Christ. But, as 
under the Old Testament dispensation, "they were not all 
Israel which were of Israel;" therefore, under the gospel, in 
like manner, the people of God are, thirdly, and in the high- 
est sense, those who are truly what they profess to be, by a 
real intrinsic sanctity of heart and deportment. 



420 CONSECEJLTIOX. 

But, though this difference of character has always been 
found among the people of God, it has never deprived them 
of their denomination*. On the contrary, it is the standing 
argument of the prophets under the law, and of the apostles 
under the gospel, to exhort and encourage them to faithful- 
ness and diligence in working out their everlasting salvation. 
Tares are indeed sown among the wheat, and they must 
grow together until the harvest, when the Omnipotent Judge 
will himself make the just and final separation. 

This is the view which the Scriptures give us of this appel- 
lation, the people of God. All nations, therefore, where the 
gospel is received, and the religion it teaches acknowledged 
and established, among which, praised be God, we are 
numbered, are entitled to this high distinction; nor is there 
any escape from the obligations and duties annexed to this 
privilege, but with the eternal perdition of our immortal 
souls. It is not in your choice, my hearers, whether you 
will be the people of God. But it is in your choice, as moral 
beings, whether you will profit by this distinction of the 
providence of your heavenly Father, to attain eternal life, or 
increase your condemnation, by casting away from you the 
rich mercies of redemption, purchased by the blood of Christ. 

jSOw what becomes a people thus favored? What return 
should all be engaged in making to him who hath thus pre- 
ferred them to millions of his creatures, in themselves equally 
deserving? Is not every tongue ready to answer, holiness, 
in the fullest sense of the word, becometh such a people? 
Yes. u iy hearers; reason and conscience both unite in con- 
firming this to be the duty, the first and highest duty, of 
every soul, under the grace of the gospel. As God hath 
separated you from the world that lieth in wickedness, and 
given you the light of life in his holy word, it is your part 
to come to the light, and to separate yourselves to his service, 
by denying ungodliness and worldly lusts. As he hath fur- 
nished you with the means of grace, in the word and sacra- 
ments, in the privilege of prayer, both public and private, in 
the clear declaration of his will, and in the glorious hope of 
eternal life, through the merits and death of his only be- 
gotten Son, no duty can be so urgent as that of informing 
yourselves of the will of God, and setting yourselves earnestly 



CONSECRATION. 121 

to perforin it: nor can a stronger argument be devised to en- 
force this upon rational beings, than to set before them the 
high privileges conferred upon them in this distinction, and 
the strong assurance thence to be derived, that if they are 
but faithful to their own best interest, the victory that con- 
fers immortal fflory will be attained. For what hio;her 
evidence can be given to any people, that "God hath not 
appointed them to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our 
Lord Jesus Christ," than thus calling them to be his people, 
and furnishing them with the means of salvation? What 
higher or more affecting motive can be presented to the 
sinner, yea, even to the chief of sinners, to break off his sins 
by repentance, and his iniquities by righteousness, than the 
manifestation of the love of God in the gift of Jesus Christ, 
"that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but 
have everlasting; life." 

And who is there now before me, who knows not of this 
precious gift? And do you not know it exclusively because 
you are the people of God? Have those who are not Ms 
people — the Heathen, for instance — have they the knowledge 
of this surpassing favor, have they any revelation to direct 
them how to come to God? Have they any prescribed 
means of grace to prepare them for eternal life in his king- 
dom? Xo. They have not the knowledge of his ways, they 
have not the bright and blessed hope which shines upon 
Christian lands. Awake, tlren, my hearers, to that holiness 
which becometh a people thus favored. Awake to that 
separation of yourselves from the world and its wickedness, 
from the ilesh and its lusts, from sin and all its deceits, 
which is the first step to the holiness to which you are called. 
Awake to the hope which the gospel sets before every one 
of you, and purify yourselves, even as He who hath pur- 
chased it for you is pure. Set about it without delay, as a 
thing possible, indispensable, and without which you are lost 
for ever. 

God hath called you to holiness, and furnished you to be- 
come holy, not only by external separation from the vicious- 
ness of sin, but by real and intrinsic transformation of the 
soul. But, my dear friends, this is to be sought for as the 
one thing needful, by having recourse to the means of grace, 



422 CONSECRATION. 

in the holy word, in prayer, in the duties of the holy Sab- 
bath, in the sacraments of the Church, and in forsaking all 
sin. These evidences on your part, of a sincere desire to 
obey and please hiin, God hath promised to bless, and to 
make effectual to you by the operation of the Holt Ghost, 
who is the Sperit of holiness, the Giver of all spiritual grace, 
and the author of everlasting life. Awake, then, my dear 
hearers, to the high privileges to which you are called as the 
people of God. Burst the bonds which sin hath coiled 
around you, and in the strength of God's blessed invitation, 
come to Jesus, that merciful Saviour, who hath also promised, 
"Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out." 

H. Secondly, to the ministers of God — holiness becometh 
them. 

All Christians are the servants of God, but all Christians 
are not the ministers of God. The holiness which becometh, 
or is required of them, therefore, must partake of this dis- 
tinction, and be measured by the nature and purpose of 
their office. 

As the ministerial office, then, relates solely to spiritual 
things, and is instituted to dispense the mysteries of religion, 
to the comfort and edification of the body of Christ, we are 
accordingly instructed, that "no man taketk this honour unto 
himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron." And 
as the ministry of the word and sacraments of religion is for 
the benefit of third persons, and a representative office, all 
reasonable assurance should be had, that the ministrations 
from which Christians derive the comforts and the hopes of 
the gospel, are performed by the authority of Christ. Hence 
the holiness which becometh the ministers of religion, con- 
sists, First, in being inwardly moved and called by the Holy 
Ghost to the office; and, also, in being duly and really com- 
missioned by those who have lawful and verifiable authority 
from Christ thereto. Without both of these qualifications, 
the holiness of a minister of Christ is imperfect, either as re- 
spects God, or as respects the people of God, and conse- 
quently is not such as becometh the high concerns he is en- 
trusted with, and the mighty interests dependent on their 
being authoritatively performed. In this respect the Church 
of Christ, as a visible society, is governed by the same prin- 



CONSECRATION. 4:23 

'ciples which prevail in every other society, and the same 
reasoning must be applied to it. 

A man may be every way qualified for the office of a 
magistrate, and truly desirous to benefit the community .by 
his services; but it is his commission only that makes liis 
judicial acts either offeree or value to those amongst whom 
he officiates. If then he is not -corn missioned at all, yet 
undertakes to act on the impulse of his strong desire to do 
good; or is commissioned by those who have no authority 
thereto — in either case, as the State is not a party to his acts, 
however wise and beneficial, it is not bound by them, either 
legally or morally, and they are consequently of no worth, 
as a dependence for those whose interests are at stake. In 
like manner of a minister of religion; and were men as 
watchful and earnest in their spiritual as in their temporal 
concerns, there would not be the cause to fear that there now 
is, for the awful insecurity in which the religious hope of 
thousands is placed, by the indifference manifested to this 
branch of ministerial holiness. 

The holiness which becometh the ministers of religion con- 
sists, in the next place, in their being truly spiritual-minded 
men, filled with the love of Christ, devoted to the service of 
God, and faithfully engaged in the great work of turning 
sinners from darkness to light, and in preparing the souls 
committed to their charge for eternal glory. This is the 
great work to which the ministers of Christ are called, and 
for which they must be furnished with all those qualifications 
which an experimental knowledge of divine things, and a 
diligent study of the learning immediately connected with 
revealed religion, can confer upon them. Without these, 
they will be either insufficient or unsafe instructers of others, 
and liable to be deluded, and drawn aside into some specious 
error, under the pretence of improvement or reform. 

The minister of Christ is to be an instructor of righteous- 
ness, and an ensample of what he teaches, to his flock. His 
holiness, therefore, must be such as the flock can observe 
and imitate. It is not in the pulpit only, that he is to mani- 
fest his separation from the world; but in his daily deport- 
ment and in his more private conversation he is to show that 
holiness to the Lord is inscribed on himself, on his family, 



424 



CONSECRATION. 



and on all his occupations. "Be ye followers of me, even as 
I also am of Christ," was the challenge of St. Paul to the 
Corinthians; and happy that minister of Christ who with 
equal fidelity strives to be able to speak the same language 
to his charge — and happy that flock who are favored with 
a pastor who thus unites a holy calling, a true commission, 
a cultivated understanding, and a godly conversation. 

III. Thirdly, To the house of God, "Holiness becometii 
thine house, O Lord, forever." 

As God is infinitely removed from all impurity and pollu- 
tion, whatever is appropriated to his service requires to be 
separated from all common and profane uses. The houses, 
therefore, in which the public offices of religion are to be 
performed, where Christians are to meet to present their 
united prayers and praises to their common Father, and 
where the holy sacraments are to be administered, should 
have some mark to distinguish them from common buildings, 
and appropriate to the holy uses to which they are applied. 
Xow this mark can in no way so well be given them as by a 
solemn dedication unto God, and a public separation of them 
from all other and common uses, for ever thereafter, as his 
especial property. This you have seen performed to-day, 
after the manner and furm prescribed by the Episcopal 
Church; and b} 7 this we have conferred upon this building, 
that relative holiness which becometh the place where God 
hath put his name, and promised to meet life people. 

God, indeed, "dwelleth not in temples made with hands," 
yet, as the public exercises of religion require suitable ac- 
commodations, it hath been the grateful duty of Christians, 
in every period of the Church, to provide such as were 
answerable to their ability, and to dedicate them solemnly, 
and exclusively, to the service of God. And in doing this, 
they consulted not only their duty, but their interest; for 
surely, a more reverend and religious feeling must be im- 
pressed upon the heart on entering a convenient and suitable 
building thus consecrated to holy uses, than on entering 
•those miserable hovels, which through the week are the re- 
ceptacles of brute animals, and on the Lord's day are too 
dark and dirty to afford comfort to human beings. 

It is said, and truly said, my hearers, that the religious 



CONSECRATION. 425 

character of a people may be safely estimated by the ap- 
pearance of the houses provided for public worship among 
them. A truly pious people, who are alive to God, and to 
the great things he hath done for them, will not be content 
to dwell in houses of cedar, while the ark of God abideth 
under curtains only; and much has yet to be done ere this 
reproach is wiped away from our land. Let us hope, how- 
ever, that the delusion which expects the abiding blessing of 
God upon a people where his name and worship are not 
honored with those requisites which his holy service demands, 
is passing away, that a better mind is beginning to manifest 
itself, and that Scripture, and reason derived from Scripture, 
will at length triumph over the corruptions which erroneous 
views of religious truth have engendered; and that the good 
example given in the erection and consecration of this build- 
ing, will rous-e the dormant spirit of reverence for God, of 
concern for the souls of their fellow creatures, and stir up the 
hearts of others to go and do likewise. It is a charity of the 
highest order, and of the most lasting nature — a good work 
in the best acceptation of the term, and to be surpassed only 
by that zeal for the glory of God which shall provide for the 
regular performance of those holy offices to which it is now 
set apart. "Holiness hecometh thine house, Lord, for ever" 

May this truth be impressed upon every heart, in the full 
meaning of the expression; and a holy people, a holy ministry, 
and a holy house, in the true Scripture sense of separation 
and Godliness conjoined, be speedily raised up in every des- 
titute portion of our Zion, prepared to sanctify and adorn that 
holy day, which God hath given us as his peculiar people; 
and may they ever be found here united, to the glory and 
praise of his holy name, and to the increase of his kingdom 
of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. 

Now, to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy 
Ghost, be, &c. &c. 



ana p* ••• 

SEEMON XV, 



THE OLD PATHS: A CONSECRATION SERMON, PREACHED IN 

VIRGINIA AND NORTH CAROLINA. 



Jeremiah vi. 16. 

"Thus saith the Lord, stand ye in the ways and see, and ask for the old 
pa'.hs, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest to 
your souls."* 

In selecting this passage of Scripture for the edification of 
the day, I am actuated, my brethren, with an earnest desire 
for your establishment in the right ways of the Lord; and I 
think that its plain application to the present religious con- 
dition of the country will enable me to make such an im- 
provement of it as shall tend to confirm you in the good way, 
and be profitable also to all others who are disposed to weigh 
truth and reason in the balances of the sanctuary, rather than 
in the scales of prejudice and passion. 

* Amongst the manuscripts of the Bishop, there were found two sermons 
upon this text, both having his mark of assent to their publication. The 
first appears to have been composed in 1822, and to have been preached at 
the opening of Mount Laurel Church, Halifax County, Va. The second ser- 
mon is substantially the same with the first, being evidently a transcript 
from it, and was preached at Warrenton, N. C, in 1824, and afterwards at 
several other places. The sermons being the same as to division, course of 
argument, style of illustration, and almost the whole of the phraseology, it 
was deemed expedient to print only the last. How they could have escaped 
the notice of the lamented author; or why, if he knowingly left them both 
in the parcel of sermons designed for publication, he should not have placed 
upon them some discriminating mark to show which had his preference, or 
have declared, if he wished a collation of the two, in order to give the very 
few passages in which they differ, cannot now be explained. Possibly the 
manuscripts were revised at different intervals during his sickness, and the 
fact that one had received his "imprimatur" (for upon all the manuscripts 
revised by him and designed for publication, was written in his own hand, 
"imprimatur, J. S. K.") escaped his memory, when he examined the last. 
The most recent, and that which had been most frequently preached, is the 
one here presented to the reader, in conformity with what in all probability 
would have been the author's decision. 



428 



THE OLD PATHS. 



A short view of the circumstances under which the ex- 
hortation in my text was delivered, will enable us the better 
to apprehend tiie nature and necessity of the awakening ap- 
peal herein made by the Almighty to his people, and through 
them to the Christian world. 

Nothing could be more convincing and satisfactory than 
those evidences on which the nation of the Jews received 
and held their religion in all its appointments, as the express 
and positive direction of the wisdom of God; neither is any 
thing more clear than that, notwithstanding this certainty, 
they had forsaken the "fountain of living waters," and in the 
pride and vanity of their minds, "had hewed out to them- 
selves cisterns, but they were broken cisterns, which could 
hold no water." By this figure, the prophet would denote 
to us their departure from the law and the testimony — their 
abandoning the prescribed service of the sanctuary, and those 
means of grace in that form of worship to which the blessing 
was expressly limited. Tired, we may suppose, of the uni- 
formity, the sameness, of their mode of worship, and vainly 
thinking to amend and improve what Jehovah himself had 
minutely enacted, and commanded to be observed, the charm 
of novelty gave strength to the spirit of innovation, until 
confusion and every evil work abounded, and corruption 
filled up its measure in the idolatrous worship of the work 
of their own hands — "Saying to a stock, thou art my father, 
and to a stone, thou hast brought me forth." Even the min- 
istry became corrupt. "The prophets prophesied falsely 5 
and the people loved to . have it so. The priests said not, 
where is the Lokd! The pastors also transgressed against 
me, and the prophets prophesied by Baal, and walked after 
things which do not profit." 

Yet there is a place of repentance for nations as well as 
individuals, my hearers. In this extremity God remembered 
his mercy and truth to Israel, and sent his servant Jeremiah 
to show them their folly and wickedness, to warn them of 
their danger, and to call them back to that appointed duty 
and service, "which was given to Jacob for a law, and to 
Israel for a testimony." "Thus saith the Lord, stand ye in 
the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the 
good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest to your 



THE OLD PATHS. 429 

souls." The point pressed upon their attention in this mes- 
sage, was consideration, comparison of their state with the 
standard of God's word, with the spirit and letter of their in- 
stitutions from him, and according thereto, to return to that 
from which they were, departed, as the only safe ground of 
comfort and assurance; and as the same principle applies 
equally to us under the gospel, a similar examination, com- 
parison and agreement with its requirements, is the only true 
source of peace to our souls. 

In discoursing on these words, therefore, on this occasion, 
I shall, in the 

First place, take a view of the present state of religion 
among us. 

Secondly, I shall inquire into, and endeavor to point out, 
the causes of that decline in the profession and practice of 
Christianity, which must be obvious to all; and, 

Conclude with an application of the subject. 

I. First, As to the present state of religion among us. 

As it will necessarily be helpful to our understanding the 
subject properly, to settle some definite meaning of the word 
religion, I shall preface what I have to say on these heads of 
discourse with this inquiry. Indeed, so many and so various 
are the notions now entertained, both of the word and of the 
thing, that its original meaning is nearly sunk into obscuri- 
ty, and there are numbers of Christians who have never asked 
themselves the meaning either of the word or the thing which 
they profess. 

The word religion, in its highest sense, means the moral 
quality of conformity to the divine nature in the dispositions 
and desires of the heart; the life of God in the soul of man, 
communicated through the grace of the gospel. In a lower 
sense, it means that method which God himself has appoint- 
ed for the attainment of this great end in sinful mortals. In 
this practical definition of the word, we are furnished with a 
safe standard to which to bring every religious notion, by 
which to try all religious conduct. The right or the wrong 
in doctrine and practice, is not made to depend on the falli- 
ble and varying ground of human opinion, but is bounded 
and determined by the unerring wisdom and unchangeable 
nature of revealed truth. And to us in particular, who are 



430 THE OLD PATHS. 

blessed with the clear light of revelation, is this standard 
given, to which, as to a light shining in a dark place, we 
would do well to take heed. To this light must I bring the 
examination before me, and by this, my brethren and hear- 
ers, must you not only examine yourselves now, but be ex- 
amined and judged too in the great day of eternity. 

In a concern of such infinite importance as the salvation 
of our immortal souls, it is reasonable, I think, to presume, 
that where all are provided with the means, all would be ear- 
nestly engaged in the attainment of the end. 

Now, my hearers, is it thus with us, either collectively or 
individually? Is the public countenance given to the gospel, 
such as denominates us a Christian nation, or is it that of 
mere acknowledgment and sufferance? Is the way, the truth, 
and the life, as it is in Jesus, the strait and the narrow way 
that leadeth unto life for this people, as much regarded and 
cared for as the way to market? Alas, my friends, we do 
not barely suffer and tolerate what we esteem and love, we 
do not usually neglect what we consider necessary and pro- 
fitable. And the power being in the hands of the people, 
the character of all public acts, whether positive or negative, 
must be referred to them, and taken as indicating their spe- 
cial intention. May God then be merciful to us as a nation, 
for if heaven were to search our public records I know not 
where the proofs would be found of our regard for the Re- 
deemer's kingdom. I know not what more could be pro- 
duced than jealousy of a hurtful, or permission of a harmless 
thing. 

But while I thus unburden my conscience in the perform- 
ance of my duty towards your souls, I am not required to ex- 
pose myself either to misapprehension or misrepresentation, 
more especially as, from my official station, the reproach would 
extend beyond myself. Let no man, therefore, draw from 
this honest exposure of public neglect on the dearest interest 
of man, the unfounded inference that I am an advocate for a 
public establishment of religion, in some of its many forms, 
and preferably, in that which I myself profess; for it is un- 
warranted, either from the words I have used, or from the 
fact, as declared with sincerity and solemnity. No, my friends, 
far, for ever distant from my heart, my head, and my hands, 



THE OLD PATHS. 431 

and from the hearts, and heads, and hands of those who think 
with me in religion, be the unscriptural and injurious desire 
and design of an establishment of the Church by the State. 
For ever removed from us, be the base suggestion of throw- 
ing a political disqualification over any shade of Christian 
opinion, and thereby enticing men to become hypocrites. No, 
my brethren, "the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but 
spiritual." Force, of any kind, is unknown to religion, is in- 
deed impossible, in its application to any thing moral and 
spiritual, and wherever attempted has proved injurious. No, 
my hearers, I would not meet the wildest fanatic among us, 
with an arm of power in any shape, but with the sword of 
the Spirit, the weapons of reason, "the armour of righteous- 
ness, on the right hand and on the left." These the wisdom 
of God hath provided for the support and defence of his 
cause in the world, and no other do I wish to wield; they are 
mighty through God, to the putting down the strong holds 
both of sin and error, and must prevail. 

But it does not follow, that because an establishment is in- 
jurious, and renounced, Christian States are under no obli- 
gation, and have no other means compatible with religious 
freedom, to provide for the religious instruction of the people, 
and thus manifest public regard for the gospel — for it is not 
so. It is amply within their reach — and I for one think it 
their first duty, even in a political view; but the plan is no 
part of this day's work. 

Let us next inquire into our religious condition as individ- 
uals, whether public neglect is compensated by the personal 
regard manifested for the gospel. 

To this, there is unhappily an answer before me in this 
congregation, which is awfully conclusive. What proportion 
of those now present are known to any profession of religion? 
How many are able to rise up and say, "I have sought the 
Lokd and he heard me," I have obtained a good hope through 
grace? O that I were put to silence by a general burst from 
every heart, "I know that my Kedeemer liveth," for I have 
experienced the power of his resurrection. 

But this may be a singular case — how stands it then at 
large? What are the prevailing pursuits of all classes among 
us? Do they savor of heaven or of earth, of God or of 



432 THE OLD PATHS. 

Marumqn? Let the profanation of the Sabbath, in every 
possible way, bear witness — let the neglect of the public 
worship of God bear witness — let the absence, in many 
neighborhoods, of all provision for that worship, and for re- 
ligions instruction, bear witness — let the general abandon- 
ment of family religion, and the consequent ignorance of 
God, and of his saving mercy, in which young people now 
grow up, bear witness — and let its decline in the families of 
professing Christians, bear witness. ISTeed we be surprised, 
my brethren, at the growth of profaneness, intemperance, 
and covetousness — at the prevalence of the world and the 
flesh — at the unfeeling rapacity with which the unfortunate 
and necessitous are ground to powder, on the nether mill- 
stone of a human heart, untouched by the influence of re- 
ligion? ]STo indeed, such are its proper but bitter fruits. 
"Men do not gather grapes from thorns, nor figs from thistles." 
Neither ought we, my friends, to expect religion to bear sway 
over the conduct of those who are brought up without re- 
ligious instruction and example. Alas, we too often see it 
yield, and give way to these temptations, in those who pro- 
fess its power. 

If such, then, are the miserable effects of the neglect of 
the gospel, if such is the dangerous precipice to which the 
road we have followed has brought us, shall we persevere and 
leap over into perdition? or shall we hear the words of my 
text, as those of a friend in extremity, and stop short, and 
stand in the ways and see if there be not a better, and inquire 
out that good way in which only there is rest for our souls? 
As a nation, God hath done great things for us, and not the 
least in causing the light of the glorious gospel to shine unto 
us. As individuals, he hath done us good, and not evil, all 
the days of our life. Stand forth the man with whom God 
Lath not dealt more mercifully than his own conscience tells 
liim he might most justly have done; and let the hard heart 
melt to penitence under the goodness of God our Saviour. 
Let us not renew the sin of Israel, my brethren and friends, 
and have it said of us as of them, "Hear O heavens, and give 
ear O earth, for the Lord hath spoken — I have nourished and 
brought up children and they have rebelled against me. The 
ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib; but 
Israel doth not know, my peo]3le doth not consider." 



THE OLD PATHS. 433 

t. L 

II. Secondly, I am to inquire into, and endeavor to point 
out, the causes of that decline in the profession and practice 
of religion, which must be obvious to all. 

On this head of my discourse, it might perhaps be suf- 
ficient to assume the general principle of unbelief, as in it- 
self productive of all the vice and immorality that can be 
imagined; because, where the sense of accountability is dis- 
missed, or smothered up, where this life is practically the 
boundary of our expectations, and the object of our exertions, 
its profits and its pleasures become the god whom we worship; 
its applause or its reproach the object of our hopes and of 
our fears, and its enjoyments and gratifications the reward 
which we covet. 

But even unbelief itself, though the natural fruit of the 
carnal mind, is matured and ripened into infidelity, by causes 
acting from without, and even by causes operating by in- 
tention for its removal. For as faith cometh by hearing, so 
likewise doth infidelity find nourishment, both by hearing 
and by refusing to hear. By ascertaining those causes then, 
and by making some fair and reasonable estimate of their 
influence on the human mind, we shall so meet this inquiry, 
as to find a remedy against it. 

The first, and that to which all the others may, in a good 
degree, be referred, is the neglect on the part of the govern- 
ment of any and all provision for public instruction in re- 
ligion; and whether we consider this as the result of design, 
or rather as the unfortunate consequence of a combination 
of fortuitous circumstances, whose bearing was new, and 
could not be calculated, the effect is nevertheless the same. 
Example will descend, whether in governments or in in- 
dividuals. 

That a country professing Christianity, all whose institu- 
tions are bottomed on its divine original, should thus lose 
sight of an object of such vital importance, is an anomaly 
without a parallel. That on the issue of a plausible but un- 
tried theor} r , should be staked all that can encourage virtue 
and repress vice — all that can give to hope its encourage- 
ment, and to fear its effect, the very basis of governing power, 
and required submission in civil society — was an experiment 

hazardous in the extreme, and will, I fear, be found injurious 
[Vol. 1, — *28.3 



±34: THE OLD PATHS. 

in the issue, and destructive of that form of government in 
whose favor it was made. It seems not to have been con- 
sidered, that to fallen man religion is a forced state, not the 
natural production of the soil; and although enforced by the 
most tremendous sanctions which can be applied to intel- 
ligent beings, jet withou teareful instruction and diligent cul- 
tivation, it cannot even exist, much less grow and flourish. 
And that the effect has been deleterious, and is increasing in 
its evil influence, must be acknowledged b} r all who have eyes 
to see, and ears to hear, the immorality and profaneness of 
high and low, rich and poor. In the fact, my friends, there 
can be no mistake, whatever there may be thought to be, in 
the cause to which it is here in part ascribed; and it is surely 
deserving the attention of all classes, in what way an evil of 
so great magnitude, and which threatens to sweep before it 
all that is dear and valuable in social life, may be arrested, 
and the miseries which must follow, both in time and in 
eternity, be averted. 

The external appearance of a people may be fair and 
flourishing, my brethren; every thing may smile upon them, 
and their comparative condition be the theme of exultation 
to them, and of desire to others; yet if the fear of God is not 
cultivated, if his worship, both public and private, is neglect- 
ed, if the mass of the community sit loose to the claims of 
the gospel upon a Christian people, and the influence of re- 
ligion is owned and felt but by here one, and there another,, 
there is a worm at the root of this flourishing tree, which 
will blast its greenness, blight its blossoms, wither its fruit,, 
and in the end lay it low and leafless on the ground. If we 
would avert this ruin, then; if we would say to our country,, 
be thou perpetual; if we would leave to our children the fair 
and fruitful, and free and peaceful inheritance our fathers, 
left us, we must turn and ask for the old paths, for the good 
way of God's holy fear, reverence of his sacred name, en- 
couragement of his commanded worship, and trust in his 
redeeming love. Then will the banner of his Almighty pro- 
tection be over us; we shall find rest here from the turmoils 
and confusions of an agitated world, and rest to our souls 
forever, in the security and safety of that kingdom, which 
shall know no end. « 



THE OLD PATHS. 435 

A second cause, to which I would ascribe the decline of 
religion among us, is the divisions among those who profess 
and call themselves by the Christian name. 

This, though an evil unavoidable in the present condition 
of man, and pronounced such by the author of our religion 
himself, is nevertheless not therefore excusable in those who 
divide. "Woe unto the world because of offences. It must 
needs be that offences come; but woe unto that man by whom 
the offence cometh." That the word offence here used by 
our Lord, means stumbling block, something that perverts 
from the truth, an occasion of difference and division in re- 
ligion, is plain from the context. Indeed this is the true 
meaning of the word throughout the New Testament. It 
therefore presents an awful lesson to all beginners of new 
systems in religion, and, in proportion, to all who are induced 
to follow them. 

By divisions in religion, its unity is broken, its evidences 
weakened, its effects counteracted. This was well known to 
the author and finisher of our faith, and therefore so expressly 
denounced. It was also well known to the enemy of God 
and man, and therefore so perseveringly prompted by every 
temptation which could lead to such an end, not only through 
the more sinful passions of our nature, but even through 
piety itself. Unity being the indelible nature of divine 
truth, it is utterly impossible that it should be such, either 
in variation from or opposition to itself. And as it is divine 
truth to us, only by or through the authority of God for its 
announcement; whatever separates or divides it from this, 
defeats its character of unity, weakens the evidence of its 
claim, and destroys its influence, not perhaps as truth, but 
as divine truth — truth in which our souls are concerned. 

That this is the effect produced in the present day, is wit- 
nessed to us, not only by the serious confession of many, 
that it operates against the reality of religion in their minds, 
in such wise as to paralyze all its other proofs, but also, by 
producing such confusion of mind, as to which of the many 
divisions is the true kingdom of the Saviour, that the inves- 
tigation is abandoned in despair, and thereafter, with all its 
mighty realities, committed to chance. And this I am per- 
suaded would prove to be the fact, with nine out of ten of 



436 THE OLD PATHS. 

those who take no concern with the gospel, were they seri- 
ously asked, and would as seriously answer, why they remain, 
either opposed or indifferent, to so lively a hope as is therein 
given to man. Sin, though the element of fallen man, is yet 
a troublesome companion, my friends, at the first. Con- 
science will speak, and, if not listened to, must be silenced 
in some way, and what readier, or more generally attempted 
way, than to get clear, some how, of God's revelation against 
it; and what more convenient a resort than the disagreement 
of Christians, as an argument against religion? 

There is another mode, however, in which the divisions 
among Christians operate to the decline of religion in the 
world, and this, under the specious pretence of advancing its 
interests. 

Well disposed men, seeing many pious and estimable per- 
sons of every denomination, have hastily concluded, that 
there was no difference, but in the mere name; others again 
have gone so far as to insist, in the very teeth of scripture, 
that a variety in religious belief was just as pleasing to God, 
and as much his design, as the other varieties visible in his 
works. Hence the modern doctrine of liberality as to opin- 
ions, and modes of faith; and hence, as a natural consequence, 
total indifference to religion in any shape; for I believe the 
fact is without contradiction, that these holders of liberal 
opinions always stand aloof from religion, in any tangible 
shape. Nor can it well be otherwise. The man who can 
think all right, in the sense of being true, in the mass of dis- 
cordant religious opinion professed in the world, cannot pos- 
sibly respect any particular one, so much, as really to em- 
brace it. Yet experience and observation tell us, my breth- 
ren, that it is a captivating doctrine, and a growing opinion. 
All denominations wish to be thought right and true; but as 
this is beyond the reach of any credulity, without the help 
of this soul-killing deceit of liberality, therefore it is hailed 
and applauded, pretty much in proportion to the conscious- 
ness of their need of it. But, my brethren, it is a most fatal 
deceit, the very Moloch of truth, and to be shunned at every 
hazard; for fire does not more certainly consume the stubble, 
than those pestilent notions eat out the very life of religion 
in the soul. 



THE OLD PATHS. 



437 



It has also become common to blend the Christian doc- 
trine of charity with this modern notion of liberality of opin- 
ion. , They have, however, in truth, no more connexion than 
light and darkness. Christian charity, whether considered 
as a frame of mind, or as an active duty, has no application 
to opinions, no connexion with them — it applies solely; to 
persons. With an erroneous or unscriptural doctrine in reli- 
gion, the Christian is to have no connexion — on the contrary, 
he is bound to oppose it. But with the person holding it, he 
is bound, at the peril of his own soul, to be in charity, that 
is, not only to wish, but to do him good; any other view of 
this doctrine is erroneous — defeats, and renders it impossible 
as a Christian duty; but thus understood and applied, it is 
equal to all the great things spoken of it, and is the only 
principle that can maintain peace in the divisions among 
Christians, without sacrificing religion. This is the old path, 
in which the primitive professors of charity walked, and it 
is the good way, into which we should do well to return, 
from the broad but deceitful road of a spurious liberality. 

A third most fruitful cause of the decline of religion, must 
be referred to the character and qualifications of those act- 
ing as its ministers. 

To keep up in the minds of men the reverence due to reli- 
gion, and thus to gain their attention to its outward minis- 
trations, it is essential that those who appear as its ministers 
should command respect, not only from their sacred office, 
from their piety and zeal, but from their acquirements in 
learning, and ability to fill the post of public instructers. To 
see the gospel of our salvation in the hands of an incompe- 
tent ministry, is the readiest and surest way to defeat the 
influence of divine truth in the religion of Christ. It is not 
in the nature of things, that persons of information — men of 
cultivated minds — should listen with any expectation of pro- 
fit, or even with patience, to the unconnected effusions of 
ignorant men, however well intentioned they may be; and 
this may serve to account for the melancholy fact, that nearly 
all of this description of persons have withdrawn themselves 
from ministrations in which neither their understandings, or 
their feelings, could'take any part; and the awful consequence 
has been, not only an accession to the ranks of infidelity and 



438 THE OLD PATHS. 

irreligion, of these men themselves, but of others also, after 
their example, who had not the same excuse, if it may be so 
considered. 

But incompetent men cannot long keep their hold, even 
upon the ignorant and uninformed, without some delusion of 
a fanatical character. Hence the claim of supernatural in- 
spiration for their preachers, which some of the denomina- 
tions set up, and which is insinuated and asserted by some 
of the preachers for themselves, in a variety of ways; while 
no pains is taken, by the body to which they belong, either 
to correct the delusion or to repress the practice. This is the 
charm which draws out crowds after men, who possess no 
single qualification, good intention perhaps excepted, for this 
most responsible office; and thus ignorance and delusion are 
extended and increased. The imagination, that spiritual 
power, in a preternatural sense, is lodged in particular men, 
produces its proper fruit, and heated minds are excited to 
give witness to this delusion, by yielding to its operations 
upon themselves. 

In aid of this claim, the arguments and example of primi- 
tive times are boldly assumed. Nothing more common than 
this defence, of this every way indefensible delusion. They 
will tell you triumphantly, that "God hath chosen the weak 
things of the world to confound the strong, and the foolish 
things of the world to confound the wise." They will appeal 
to the uneducated ignorance of our Lord's apostles, and tell 
you that they were poor fishermen and tradesmen. And so 
indeed they were, and for the very purpose, "that the excel- 
lency of the power might be of God, and not of men," in the 
spread and establishment of the gospel. But they forget, or 
overlook, that these poor and ignorant fishermen, to qualify 
them to preach the gospel, were miraculously educated — that 
they became linguists, philosophers, and divines, in the school 
of the Holy Ghost — that by one pentecostal out-pouring of 
the Holy Spirit, they were enlightened to understand and 
apply the Scriptures unerringly, to speak to every people in 
their own language, and to convince gainsayers, by those 
miraculous powers which were the proper evidence that the 
gospel was the truth of God, and themselves his only ambas- 
sadors to this world of sinners. They forget that all these 



THE OLD PATHS. 439 

wonders "were for a special purpose, and were not to continue 
—-"Whether there be tongues, they shall cease,"' — and that 
the purpose being answered in the establishment of the gos* 
pel, miracles were withdrawn from the Church. And they 
are wilfully ignorant, that under an established gospel, an 
authentic Scripture, a visible Church, and instituted means 
of grace, the ordinary influences of the Holy Spirit are all 
that we are to look for, whether for private or public useful- 
ness in the Church — as also^ that it is true beyond the possi- 
bility of contradiction, that the Holy Ghost calls no man to 
the ministry, who is not qualified with the necessary know- 
ledge, or who possesses not the means and the desire to ob- 
tain it. 

While this delusion, therefore, is countenanced, even with 
a tacit avowal of its fallacy on the part of better informed 
Christians, it will operate with great force against the reli- 
gion it is intended to support. It must increase infidelity, 
because it contradicts our senses. Our ears, our eyes, our 
understandings, all concur in denying the truth of this claim, 
by whomsoever now made, and it leaves a fearful taint of 
unbelief on the mind against that religion whose public min- 
ister is thus found either deceived himself or trying to de- 
ceive others. It is impossible that religion should be respect- 
ed in such hands^ and if not respected, it will soon be thrown 
•aside. 

A fourth cause of the decline of religion, and with which 
I shall conclude, is, transient and occasional preaching. 

The object of a preached gospel, is instruction in righteous- 
ness, impression upon the heart, and direction in the way of 
life; and the object of a fixed ministry in the Church, is to 
watch for the souls given in charge, to provide food for each 
in due season, and suitable to the condition; and by personal 
intercourse to be examples to the flock. None of which are 
compatible with a transient wandering ministry. No inter- 
est is felt like that of a pastor for his flock, by the man who 
is here to-day and gone to-morrow; his object is too general, 
too diffuse, to occupy his heart with a special object of care 
and inspection. Nor can any of that close connexion exist 
between the flock and their pastor, which is so pleasant and 
so profitable to both. "The good shepherd calleth his own 



440 THE OLD PATHS. 

slieep by name, and lie goeth before them, and the sheep 
follow him." Yes, and he feedeth the lambs of the flock — 
all which is impossible to the transient preacher. 

Occasional preaching also leaves many intervals in which 
there is no supply. In these cases the effect dies away, in- 
struction is forgotten, the spirit declines, and the work is to 
do over. Thus, like a door turning upon its hinges, they veer 
to this side and to that, but never move out of the place. 

As a necessary consequence of transient and occasional 
preaching, disagreement in doctrine, and opposition in prac- 
tice, among the preachers of the different denominations,, 
will be sure to follow, as will also the effect in minds con- 
fused, bewildered, and unsettled, on the truths of religion, 
until unbelief steps in, and sweeps them all into equal con- 
tempt and oblivion. 

To expect, then, my brethren and hearers, under such a 
state of things, a flourishing state of religion, of rational,, • 
scriptural religion, would be the folly of looking for an effect 
without its cause, or that a cause should operate different 
from its nature. "Whether those which I have pointed out 
are sufficient to account for that decline in religion which w© 
must all deplore, is for you to judge, as it also is for you to 
consider, how far you are bound, in the value of your souls-,. 
to strive for its correction. I can but show the evil, and ex- 
hort you to apply the remedy, the only remedy — ■"stand ye 
in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the 
good way, and walk therein, and ye shall And rest to your 
souls." 

As an application of what has been said, I appeal to the 
experience of all present, for the truth of that decline in re- 
ligion which I have stated, and ask them, is it not an alarm- 
ing fact, and one in which they are most deeply interested, 
both as citizens and Christians'^ And I appeal to the know- 
ledge and observation of all present, for the sufficiency of the 
causes I have assigned, and ask, are they to continue to ope- 
rate against your own souls, and the souls of your children? 
Oh what a fearful delusion has come upon us, and how con- 
tented we are under its death-doing mischief. Oh what an 
awful prospect is there before the rising generation; and yet 
we take no alarm. And shall no watchman in Zion take the 



THE OLD PATHS. 441 

trumpet, and give warning? Yes, there shall be one, who 
for the love of immortal souls, will set at nought misrepre- 
sentation and reproach, and blow an awakening note through- 
out her borders. 

But it raay be said, "Physician, heal thyself." Where is 
the remedy? My hearers, will you apply to it, will you take 
it if I present it? Behold it then in my text. Let us return 
to first principles, to the right ways of the Lord. It is an 
axiom we have consecrated in political science, it is the only 
remedy for a wrong road in the wanderings of this life. It 
is the only cure of religious errors; and it is put to you this 
day as the admonition of the Lord. 

In exhorting you thus to turn to the Lord, from ways 
which have not profited, it glads my heart, my brethren, to 
be able to say, that the Church of your fathers, the old and 
good way in which they found rest to their souls, stands 
ready to receive you, and, as a nursing mother, to nourish 
you with sound doctrine, and feed your souls with the bread 
of life.. That you may hear her counsel, she calls upon you 
to consider what you have gained by casting her off; what 
advance you have made in religion and morals, while you 
have been living without her ministry, her service, her ordi- 
nances, her instruction — she would meekly ask you, what 
have you profited, as to your souls, by the new ways in re- 
ligion which have been proposed and pressed upon you? O 
let truth be heard without prejudice; let reason judge upon 
information; let experience teach by observation; let Scrip- 
ture, the word of God, utter its warning to willing ears; let 
not example be thrown away. But as God hath put it into 
the hearts of the contributors to this building, to erect a 
Church to his name, let it encourage you to believe, that he 
is yet waiting to be gracious. It is indeed but a little one — 
Jacob is* small, but Jacob's God can make, of a little one a 
great nation. It is indeed the Church in the wilderness, but 
his blessing can turn the wilderness into a fruitful field. Yet 
he works by instruments; your exertions, as well as your 
prayers, are called for. Ye have well done in that ye have 
built an house to his name. But to be profitable to you, and 
honorable to him, it must be occupied, and attended upon. 
Transient, occasional preaching you have all had sufficient 



442 THE OLD PATHS. 

experience of, to know that it ends in listlessness and care- 
lessness, indifference to religion, and deadness to God. 

Put fortli an effort, then, in your own behalf and in behalf 
of all around; let not faith fail and God be dishonored, through 
indolence or despair, and he will put it in the hearts of the 
ability, as to this world's good, which abounds around you, 
to supply this mighty void in your otherwise favored con- 
dition. They are in the like necessity, and we cannot think 
they mean to continue thus. They will see their interest, 
they will see their duty, and give themselves to the glorious 
work of renovating the moral condition of all around them, 
and making a wilderness of sin and death, of ignorance and 
error, to bud and blossom as the rose, the desert and the soli- 
tary place to become vocal with the praises of God; and pure 
and undenled religion will be the rich legacy they bequeath 
to their children, with rest to their own souls in the kingdom 
and glory of our Lord Jesus Christ; to whom, &c. &c. 






SERMON XYI. 

THE REASONABLENESS OF KELIGION. 



. . 



1 Kings xviii. 21. 



"And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye be- 
tween two opinions? if the Lokd he God, follow him; But if Baal, then fol- 
low him." 

The reasonableness of religion is the reproach of those who 
neglect it; and the benefits it proposes and confers on those 
who embrace and follow its salutary laws, is the just con- 
demnation of all who are not led by its sanctions to prefer 
the interests of eternity to those of time; and so to prefer 
them, as to manifest, in the conduct of life, that what is high- 
est in value, and first in importance, is chief in desire, and 
foremost in pursuit. 

Now, while I am sure, that there is not one among those 
to whom I am speaking who would hesitate a moment to ac- 
knowledge their belief in the being of God, and the conse- 
quent obligation of all his creatures to serve and please him, 
I would ask how it comes to pass, nevertheless, that so few 
are influenced, in any degree, by this so universal admission? 
To this, I doubt not, that some would return one kind of an- 
swer, some another, and some no answer at all. The true 
answer, however, I fancy, will be, the want of consideration, 
the neglect of any serious examination of our actual condi- 
tion, and of the truths of revelation, as connected with that 
condition. 

It is want of serious reflection, my dear hearers, that gives 
to the enemy of our souls his chief power against us, and en- 
ables him to array the world and the things that are in it in 
so captivating a dress as to be taken, by many, in exchange 
for the favor of God and eternal life in the world to come. 

Yet I should suppose, that if any thing short of eternity 
can bring us to reflect seriously, it must be the end that 
awaits us, when this world and all its deluding promises shall 



4AA THE REASONABLENESS OF RELIGION. 

pass away as "a dream when one awaketh" — it must "be the 
reality of our present condition, as in the sight of God, whe- 
ther we are in his favor or exposed to his wrath — -it must be 
the principle by which we are actuated in this life, and which 
shall determine our state in that which is to come. But what 
says experience? what say the consciences of the greater part 
now present, both of young and old? Alas! the answer is 
ready; we have not thought of these things; we have not re- 
alized them. "To-day, then, if ye will hear his voice, har- 
den not your hearts," but meet your eternal interests with a 
fair consideration of their value, and "if the Lord be God, 
follow him, but if Baal, then follow him." 

Surely, my friends, it is a most fair alternative, and just 
such an appeal to our reason and understanding as contend- 
ers for the supremacy of human reason require; and such, 
moreover, as might teach the enemies of Christianity, who 
ignorantly charge it with requiring of them what is contrary 
to reason, to consider rather, how very reasonable a service 
it is, how exactly accommodated to our condition, calculated 
to exalt our reason, enlarge our perceptions, elevate our 
hopes, refine our natures, purity our hearts, and fit us, sin- 
Tiers that we are, for Heavenlv glory. 

In discoursing on this passage of Scripture, I shall, 

Ferst, point out what is to be understood by the word 
Baal, in connexion with its application to the present cir- 
cumstances of Christians; 

Secondly, I shall inquire into the general causes of that 
hesitation and reluctance to embrace religion which is so 
manifest among us; and, then, 

Conclude with an application of the subject. 

"And Elijah came to all the people, and said, How long 
halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow 
him; but if Baal, then follow him." 

I. First, I am to point out what is to be understood by the 
word Baal, in connexion with its application to the present 
circumstances of Christians. 

The proneness of the Jewish nation to actual idolatry, was 
a very remarkable trait in the character of that people. Re- 
peated instances are recorded in the Old Testament, of their 
offending in this way, and it was not until after the severe 



THE REASONABLENESS OF RELIGION. 445 

chastisement of the Babylonish captivity that they were cured 
of it. The particular case referred to in the text was, the 
idolatrous worship set up by Jeroboam, on the revolt of the 
ten tribes from Eehoboam, the son of Solomon; and the Baal 
here mentioned is generally understood as the same with 
Belus, or the Sun. This was the most ancient form of idol- 
atry in the world. That the idol was a material one, the 
context informs us; and that it had its too crowded temples, 
priests, and sacrifices, similar to those appointed for the wor- 
ship of the true God, established in Jerusalem. 

Now, my hearers, I doubt not but that it seems a strange 
thing, that rational beings, especially those who were favored 
with an express revelation of and from God, could so far be 
deluded as to render homage and worship to a senseless 
block of matter, and put their trust in a graven image made 
by themselves, for help and deliverance, either in life or 
death. Yet it differs in nothing from the virtual idolatry of 
wealth-worship, world-homage, and pleasure-service, so pre- 
valent in the Christian world. The essence of the sin lies 
not in the thing worshipped, but in the departure of the heart 
from God. And we become just as criminally idolaters by 
setting up an idol in our hearts, as by falling down before it 
in our houses. The man who puts his trust in uncertain 
riches makes gold his god. The slave of sensual pleasure 
sacrifices to the flesh. The man who pursues the honors 
and state of the world bows down at the shrine of ambition; 
and the giddy, thoughtless votary of folly and fashion, wor- 
ships the glittering and ever-changing idol of the world and 
dissipation. And however various the idols, yet one common 
character is stamped upon the worshippers — "God is not in 
all their thoughts;" their hearts are gone away from him. 

In the present circumstances of Christians, then, the right 
application of the word Baal is to whatever profit, pleasure, 
or pursuit interferes with and supersedes the gospel, and 
draws them off from the duty they owe to God, and the care 
of their immortal souls; and the appeal made in my text is 
to the unreasonablness of such a course of conduct: yet how 
dead is the world to so fair a proposition; how readily can 
those who feel that it applies unanswerably to their particu- 
lar condition put it away from them. Yea, how many of 



446 THE REASONABLENESS OF RELIGION. 

those now present, both young and old, will nevertheless hug 
their idol closer to their hearts, and stifle the reason of their 
own minds and the affectionate warning of God's holy truth, 
in a more devoted worship of their particular Baal. Thus is 
that light which is given to guide them to their duty and 
their happiness, exchanged for darkness; and thus is the god 
of this world permitted "to blind the minds of them that be- 
lieve not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ should 
shine unto them;" yea thus, and for this cause, does God 
"send them strong delusion that they should believe a lie — 
that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, 
but had pleasure in unrighteousness." 

Oh! how similar in every age is the spirit of infidelity in 
its effects, whether it be manifested in the gross idolatry of 
graven images, or in the more refined influence of philosophi- 
cal unbelief and disregard of revelation. How is the heart 
dead to God, even under the clear disclosure of that love and 
mercy in which he is manifested by the gospel, to the faith 
and fear of his redeemed creatures. 

"What numbers are wilfully ignorant of what he hath spoken 
unto us by his son. What still greater numbers hold them- 
selves back from every improvement of the knowledge they 
do possess, and never take one step towards the mercy seat; 
never withhold themselves from the desire they can gratify; 
never think of Heaven, of Hell, of Death, of Judgment; never 
bend the knee in prayer, or ask, what must I do to be saved? 
What multitudes strive to reconcile the service of God with 
that of the Baal whom they worship, and are straightway 
offended, when a faithful Elijah strips the mask from their 
idol, uncovers the iniquity of their hearts, and shows them 
its enmity to God. Above all, when he appeals to their rea- 
son, as in the words of my text, to prove that their Baal has 
no power to help or save them, but is cheating them out of 
their souls — that their boasted honesty and morality are but 
selfish sins, and not atoning saviours — how does the pride of 
unhumbled hearts swell and rise against the truth, and a 
preached gospel become "the savor of death," of double 
death, to those who will listen neither to reason or revelation 
in behalf of their souls. 

O if there be any such present this day, any who, by ne- 



THE REASONABLENESS OF RELIGION. 447 

gleet of the word and worship of God, are joined unto their 
idol, let the message wherewith I am charged come to their 
ears and to their hearts, in the power and spirit of the God 
of Elijah, and awaken them to consider whom they serve, 
and what wages they are to receive. O let them for once 
hear the words of truth and soberness: and if the Lord, the 
Lord Jesus Christ, be God, follow him; but if the world, the 
flesh, or the devil, be God, and a God mighty to save, then 
follow them. Be no longer crippled by divided opinion, be 
no longer deluded with the vain expectation that this world 
and the things that are in it, and the world to come and the 
things that are in it, at the right hand of God, are to be 
gained by the same means. ]^o, there is a gulf between them 
which we must pass in the present life. Over this gulf there 
is but one strait and narrow wav, marked with the blood 
of Christ, and lighted up with faith and holiness. It is 
strewed, indeed, with self-denial, and sometimes with suffer- 
ing, but it leads to eternal life and heavenly glory. O that 
you may this day hear your heavenly leader's voice calling 
unto you, "strive to enter in at the strait gate, for wide is 
the gate and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction." 

II. Secondly, I am to inquire into the general causes of 
that hesitation and reluctance to embrace religion which is 
so manifest amongst us. 

To attempt a statement of them all, my friends, would ex- 
ceed your patience and my strength. Every one, however, 
by a little attention to the frame of his or her own spirit — to 
the motives and expectations of his or her conduct, may sup- 
ply what may either necessarily or inadvertently escape my 
notice. 

The first I will mention is, ignorance of what religion re- 
ally is. This, as it is a very effectual cause of hesitation, so 
is it a most inexcusable one, and what men are seldom guilty 
of in any matter of worldly interest. That it exists and ope- 
rates to the injury of thousands, is capable of such instant 
proof as no honest and sincere man can deny. — As thus: - 

Let me ask those present who have no concern with re- 
ligion, (I fear I might ask some who call themselves Chris- 
tians,) whether God's message to the world by his prophets, 
by Jesus Christ, and by his apostles, has received as careful 



44rS THE REASONABLENESS OF RELIGION. 

a consideration of its evidences, and as deep a study of its 
doctrines, its discoveries, its rewards, and penalties, as the 
most common calling and profession by which men earn their 
daily bread? Have its advantages been inquired into as 
diligently, and what are considered its disadvantages by 
worldly men, been weighed and estimated with as much care 
as would be given to the poor concern of the purchase of an 
estate? Has the loss or the gain, exhibited in its eternal 
sanctions, been revolved in the mind with the same caution 
that is bestowed on a speculation of worldly, interest? 

Let those concerned answer these questions according to 
truth, and then consider how enmity to God, the only pos- 
session of the carnal or worldly mind, is thus detected in its 
very elements, and manifested in this neglect of his word and 
worship; and let them further reflect, how justly they may be 
charged with the idolatry of the heart, who give their affec- 
tions to, and place their dependence upon, some temporal 
good. Alas! when ledgers, and law books, and novels, and 
the tools of our trade, hunt the Bible out of doors, and not 
even the Lord's day is spared from the business and the 
pleasure of the world, what is it better than open renunci- 
ation of God, and, under the light of the gospel, how is it 
less criminal than the actual idolatry of Heathen lands? 

What! shall God speak? shall the Most High God, the ma- 
ker of heaven and earth, reveal to us his will, and disclose 
all the wonders of his love for our good, and the sinful crea- 
ture for whom all this is done, turn his back upon it, and put 
it away from him as a thing of less consequence than busi- 
ness, or profit, or pleasure, and yet think to stand excused? 
"Would we excuse any dependant who should thus treat us? 
would we permit him to plead ignorance, when it was his 
first duty, and his highest interest, to inform himself, and to 
act accordingly? No, indeed. How then "shall those escape 
who neglect so great salvation?" And why shall not the 
same measure be meted out to them wherewith they have 
measured to others? And what but hesitation and reluc- 
tance, yea, and actual hostility to religion, can be expected 
from those who are carelessly ignorant of God, of his gra- 
cious purposes of mercy towards them, and of his wonderful 
means to sanctify and save sinners! 



THE REASONABLENESS OF RELIGION. 449 

A second cause of hesitation and reluctance to embrace 
religion is, love of the world. 

By love of the world I mean, such delight in and engage- 
ment with the poor portion it has to bestow, as swallows up 
the care of the soul, and drowns men in destruction and 
perdition. 

In such persons, sense so far prevails against faith as to 
hide from them the baits with which Satan is continually 
drawing them further and further into his snare. Arguments 
in favor of the reasonableness and necessity of religion fall 
upon a pre-occupied ear and a blinded mind. Religion is 
not seriously considered in its origin, its use, its end. Even 
the occasional convictions of conscience are escaped from, if 
not stifled; and excuses, which even at the moment are felt 
to be unsafe, resorted to. Oh! how readily can the spirit of 
the world make "the worse appear the better reason." To 
what poor perversions and miserable sophistry will men, 
fallen men, resort, to obscure and resist the truth, and give 
the god of this world his advantage against the gospel of 
Christ. My brethren and hearers, shall we be warned that 
"the friendship of the world is enmity with God, that if any 
man love the world and the things that are in it, the lust of 
the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, the love 
of the Father is not in him;" shall reason, and revelation, 
and experience, all combine to prove to us, that all its enjoy- 
ments are vain, transitory, and unsatisf} T ing, that they can- 
not fill the aching void in the heart of an immortal spirit, 
while separated from God, the only and the enduring good; 
that the whole purchase of its power, and praise, and honor, 
and splendor, cannot reach the value of one soul, or give to 
God a ransom for its forfeit? Shall all this be told us, and 
by the Son of God himself, and any yet hesitate, between 
God and this Baal? Is there no help in either faith, fear, or 
love, against this modern Moloch, to which so many sacrifice 
themselves, and their sons, and their daughters? Yes, there 
is help, thanks be to God, but it is no where to be found but 
in the cross of Christ; on that he overcame the world, and 
the God of its idolatry; and under this banner only can we 
obtain the victory, and gain the crown of eternal life. He 

lived, he died, he conquered for us, my brethren— he despised 
[Vol. 1,— *29.] 



450 THE REASONABLENESS OF EELIGION. 

its glory, he overcame its temptation, he endured its scoff,,